Democrats Obtain Narrow Majority in Senate

On January 5, Georgia voters participated in two runoff elections to choose their Senators for the 117th Congress. Each state’s Senate seats are classed so that voters typically only elect one of their two Senators in a single election cycle. However, in November 2020, both of Georgia’s Senators, Republicans David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler were up for re-election simultaneously.

Pursuant to Georgia law, if no candidate in the November general election receives 50 percent of the vote, the top two finishers advance to a runoff election. In Georgia, in the November elections between Democratic challengers Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock and incumbent Republican Senators David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler, respectively, no candidate received 50 percent of the vote.

In the resulting runoffs, both Democratic challengers defeated Senators Perdue and Loeffler. As a result, Democrats will have a slim Senate majority in the 117th Congress, which began last week. Senate makeup is evenly divided between Democrats and Republicans, with Vice President-elect Kamala Harris (D) available to break tie votes, which will likely be common. The Georgia runoff results will be helpful to the Biden administration, which will be able to move more of its legislative agenda than originally expected with narrow Democratic majorities in both houses.