Democrats are taking over the US Senate. What the Georgia runoffs mean for Washington and Texas.

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As a group of Republican elected officials work to execute their seditious strategy to steal the 2020 election when a joint session of Congress meets today to vote on certifying the electoral college vote, Republicans in Washington woke up with a difficult taste in their mouths this morning when media outlets began calling Georgia’s second Senate runoff for the Democrats.

The victory caps off a stunning sweep for Democrats that has powered them in their quest to unexpectedly take back the majority in the US Senate. It began last night when the Reverend Raphael Warnock toppled appointed Senator Kelly Loeffler, with Decision Desk HQ and other outlets calling that special election runoff late Tuesday. 

The second race hung in suspense until this morning, when Jon Ossoff was declared the winner over Senator David Perdue.

The twin victories for Georgia Democrats are the cherry on top of a remarkable election cycle that saw the President-elect flip the longtime Republican stronghold, largely on the strength of years of hard organizing work by Stacey Abrams and a diverse coalition of organizations predominantly run by Black women. 

While national Republicans were hopeful that the runoffs would revert back to safe Republican territory, a powerful confluence of timing and circumstance conspired to deliver both of the state’s Senate seats to Democrats.

Republicans in the state and in DC fumed Wednesday morning over what they viewed as fatal mistakes made by President Donald Trump in the runup to Election Day. Rather than step away quietly from a state he lost, Trump continued to engage in a disinformation campaign about the results in the presidential race and engaged in ugly and public feuds with the state’s Republican Governor and Secretary of State. 

With Trump’s actions actively dampening turnout, they became a fait accompli for Perdue and Loeffler, who needed to exceed Trump’s losing performance in November to have any chance to win. 

While the topline implications of these victories is clear, with Democrats now capturing the majority in the Senate and with it every committee chairmanship in advance of President-elect Biden’s cabinet confirmations, the massive effort to elect Warnock and Ossof also provides Democrats in other states a playbook to implement across the new south.

That’s where Texas comes into play. Trump carried Georgia in the 2016 presidential election by a margin similar to his 2020 margin in Texas, the smallest for a Republican in the state in generations.

Georgian’s made a concerted effort to engage and register underrepresented voters over the intervening four years with well funded programs that rang true to the communities they engaged.

Combining that historic effort to turn out Black voters with programs geared toward engaging other communities of color proved to be one of the most critical decisions the Democratic campaigns made, with targeted investments in staff, programming and media for AAPI voters yielding tangible dividends in a pair of tightly contested races.

Texas Democrats, and moreover national Democrats, would be well served to replicate these programs and scale them over the next two cycles, which will see the Governor’s Mansion and other statewide offices on the ballot in 2022, and races for president and Ted Cruz’s US Senate seat on the horizon in 2024.

In many ways that work is a continuation of the organizing powerhouse Beto O’Rourke built in 2018 and replicated with Powered by People in 2020. Organizing requires a long term commitment, both in terms of the resources deployed but also in terms of the attention and respect it requires to truly build relationships with voters.

It worked in Georgia. It can work in Texas. 

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