US Georgia Senate runoff election minus four days

The last action of the midterms is important for Democrats’ chances of retaining the Senate after the 2024 elections. Also covered: the Malaysian election and UK developments.

Guest post by Adrian Beaumont, who joins us from time to time to provide commentary on elections internationally. Adrian is a paid election analyst for The Conversation. His work for The Conversation can be found here, and his own website is here.

The first section of this article has been copied from my article Thursday mainly about the Victorian upper house results for The Conversation.

The United States November 8 midterm elections are not quite finished, as the Georgia Senate contest has gone to a runoff Tuesday, with polls closing at 11am Wednesday AEDT. At the November 8 election, Democrat Raphael Warnock won 49.4% and Republican Herschel Walker 48.5%. A Libertarian, with 2.1%, prevented a majority for either candidate, and so the runoff. Polls for the runoff suggest Warnock is narrowly ahead.

Democrats currently lead the Senate by 50-49. Even if Warnock loses, they will still control the Senate on Vice President Kamala Harris’ casting vote. But this election is important because Democrats face a very difficult Senate map in the 2024 elections.

Of the 33 Senate seats up for election in 2024, 23 are Democrat-held and just ten Republican-held. Democrat-held seats include three states – West Virginia, Montana and Ohio – that Donald Trump won easily in both 2016 and 2020. Democrats need to win Georgia next week to have a realistic chance of keeping the Senate after the 2024 elections.

Republicans likely won the House of Representatives on November 8 by a margin of 222-213 over Democrats, the exact reverse of Democrats’ 222-213 majority after the 2020 elections. Republicans lead the overall House popular vote by 50.7-47.8 according to the Cook Political Report.

Update Sunday: The final undecided House seat, California’s 13th, has been called for the Republicans, confirming a 222-213 House win.

US polls understated the left, in contrast to polls at other recent major national elections

At the Australian national election, polls overstated Labor’s primary support and understated UAP, although polls were better after preferences as Labor performed better than expected on preference flows. Polls also understated the right at recent Brazilian and Israeli elections.

Polls for the US midterm elections understated the left (Democrats), particularly in some key Senate contests. In New Hampshire, Democrat Hassan defeated Republican Bolduc by 9.1%; polls gave Hassan only about a two-point lead. Democrat Fetterman defeated Republican Oz in Pennsylvania by 4.9%, but most polls gave Oz the lead, although Marist College (Fetterman up six) was an exception. Democrats also outperformed their polls in Arizona and Nevada.

We should not assume that polls will be biased against Warnock in Georgia, just because they were generally biased against Democrats at the midterms. Poll bias can change from one election to another, and the Georgia runoff is a different election.

Anwar Ibrahim finally becomes Malaysian PM

Anwar Ibrahim was finance minister in Mahathir Mohamad’s conservative UMNO government in 1998, but was removed from all posts that year, and jailed in 1999 after a trial for sodomy and corruption that was criticised by human rights groups. At the 2018 election, Mahathir led an anti-UMNO coalition to victory and became PM, but his coalition broke down, and UMNO returned.

Malaysia’s parliament has 222 members elected by first past the post. The November 19 election produced the first hung parliament in its history, with Anwar’s reformist PKR winning 82 seats on 37.5%, with the nationalist BERSATU on 73 seats and 30.4%, and UMNO on 30 seats and 22.4%. Most parties pledged to join a unity government led by Anwar, with a confidence vote scheduled for December 19.

UK Labour maintains huge poll lead, and receives big swing at by-election

It’s over a month since Rishi Sunak became Britain’s PM on October 25. Labour is maintaining a huge lead with its vote in the high 40s in UK national polls, with the Conservatives in the low to mid 20s in most polls. Some of the Conservatives’ losses recently are benefiting the far-right Reform, which was at 9% in a recent YouGov poll.

A parliamentary by-election occurred Thursday in the Labour-held City of Chester. Labour won by 60.8-22.2 over the Conservatives with 8.3% for the Liberal Democrats and 3.5% Greens. At the 2019 general election. Labour won this seat by 49.6-38.3 with 6.8% Lib Dems and 2.6% Greens. This seat was a safe Conservative seat until Labour won it in the 1997 landslide. The Conservatives regained it in 2010, but Labour won it by just 93 votes in 2015 and expanded that margin greatly in 2017.

12 comments on “US Georgia Senate runoff election minus four days”

  1. In a tied senate Committee membership is equal for each party and it’s virtually impossible for anything (such as nominations) to be voted on the senate floor after a tied committee vote without an additional vote to have a vote which ties up senators and also floor time.

    It also ties up the VP who basically needs to stay in DC whenever the senate is in session in case she’s needed to break a tie. As President of the Senate only she can break a tie – there isn’t a chairs casting vote that whom ever is presiding on any given day can invoke.

    As to 2024 the DEMs have likely already written off retaining Manchin (WV) in the senate. He barely eked out a win in 2018. He may have been popular previously in the state but it’s clear the voters now only want ruby red republicans rather than a conservative democrat like Manchin.

    And in Georgia is says something that the Republican Lieutenant Governor publicly refused to vote for Walker and submitted a blank ballot. And is also says something that Trump backed Walker has told Trump to stay away (well his handlers did as Walker is too busy talking about werewolves and China stealing a Georgia’s clean air and how we already have enough trees) as Trump is putting voters off (much as he did in the 2021 run offs where trumps tirades about votes being stolen actually made it worse for the GOP incumbents to win)

    Meanwhile in AZ a GOP county board was court ordered earlier this week to certify its votes after Katie Hobbs (the current Dem Secretary of State and soon to be Governor) went to court to make them. This was despite the fact that excluding that counties votes would have helped the democrats win an additional congressional seat and in the AZ house and Senate.

    A different judge also sanctioned the lawyers Lake and Fincham (GOP candidates for Governor and SoS) for basically wasting the courts time earlier this year with various spurious and factually incorrect filings. These are arguably the two worst “stop the steal” protagonists other than Trump and needed to be slapped down.

  2. Adrian

    Thanks for the interesting rundown of US polling trends and the significance of the Georgia race. I imagine that, with the Biden administration still having to deal with “Democrats” Manchin and Sinema in the Senate, having a “spare” Senator vote would also be tactically useful in the short term.

    I note that the Democrats party organisation dinosaur has finally decided to reform the order of US primaries, ending Iowa’s start position after the 2020 caucus fiasco. This should help Biden in 2024 and Democrats generally in future get a better read on the electability of candidates early in the race.

  3. Socrates

    It’s all very well the DEMs wanting to rejig their primary contest timetable but they are still in the hands of when the states are prepared to hold them.

    New Hampshire has a law that says it’s primary has to be held 7 days before anyone else’s (and they have already said they ain’t changing that) and since it’s the state and not the parties that pay for primary elections both parties are in the hands of the states if they still want to get their primary for free.

  4. Dems chance in the senate in 2024 is almost 0 if they lose WV and OH. Almost certain to occur. Montana is a probably. And there will be many competitive races such as Nevada, Wisconsin, and Arizona which I expect will back the presidential winner of their states. As those incumbents in my view are weak.

    Pennsylvania, Michigan and Maine are “maybe’s” but those incumbents look stronger and allot will determine whether they run again (Especially Maine)

    Minnesota would only be in contention if Klobuchar retires and the dislike towards the senator in New Jersey seems to have faded. Kaine won’t lose in Virginia even if the governor runs.

    Don’t even think about suggesting Rick Scott losing in Florida after the midterms in Florida. It will be much closer than 17% but I still see his MOV being around 5-10% Same with Ted Cruz in Texas.

    Dems are extremely unlikely to win the senate in 2024 even if they go into it with 49+2(51) I could see Trump losing in 2024 but Republicans gain the senate and lose the house, this scenario is definitely possible.

  5. Kyrsten Sinema, the Dem senator up in 2024 for Arizona, is likely to face a primary challenge from her left. She and West Virginia’s Joe Manchin have been the least reliable Dem senators. Manchin has a much better excuse as his state voted for Trump by almost 40 points in 2020.

  6. Sherrod Brown, Tammy Baldwin and Jon Tester are all super-strong incumbents. (Manchin is on his own plane at this point, but even with his crossover support he has no chance of winning as a Democrat in 2024; his best chance to stay in Washington is to switch parties.) The respective redness of those states makes Baldwin the most likely to win and Tester the least likely, but none of them are entirely out of contention even if (or in Montana’s case, when) their states vote Republican in the Presidential race.

    Jacky Rosen is pretty much in the dictionary next to “Generic Democrat,” so one suspects that she’ll rise or fall with Nevada’s Presidential outcome (she did beat an incumbent in 2018, but that was somewhat on easy mode given the national blue wave).

    Sinema has negative incumbency status. For one thing, she’s almost certainly going to leave office or be primaried, as she’s toxically unpopular among Democrats; for another, in the unlikely event that she reaches a general election, a huge percentage will stay home or vote third party, meaning that it’s essentially a guaranteed loss. (Of course, having her in the Senate is something close to a guaranteed loss for Dems as it is.)


    Arizona is looking like potentially the most interesting contest of 2024, with the potential for Sinema to be primaried. And because Arizona currently doesn`t allow failed primary challengers to run as independents or write-ins, she will have to decide whether to run in the Democratic Primary or run as an independent (or for some other party, presumably of her own creation), if she wishes to be sure of being on the general election ballot.

    I suspect that in these more militantly partisan times Arizona Republicans would not fall behind Sinema to the extent that Connecticut Republicans fell in behind Lieberman in 2006, if Sinema were to run as an independent or for a third party. A combination of the significant proportion of Arizona voters who are hardline Republicans, Republicans having held Senate seats in Arizona more recently than was the case in Connecticut in 2006, and it being a presidential year with Arizona being one of the more contested states is likely to keep the Republican candidate`s vote high enough that Sinema would really have to eat into the otherwise Democratic vote to even avoid third place.

  8. New Hampshire has a law that says it’s primary has to be held 7 days before anyone else’s (and they have already said they ain’t changing that)

    Such a stupid law – what happens if two states have laws like that on the books?

  9. Presumably, one state’s SOS or the other would at some point be forced to declare the law impossible to follow.

    This reminds me of an amusing factoid, which is that in the early history of the United States, Congress passed– and the states very nearly ratified– a constitutional amendment which would have made the size of the House of Representatives mathematically unconstitutional (i.e., all possible numbers of representatives would have been unconstitutional) during any decade when the national population fell between 8 and 10 million people. What would have been done with this, I have no idea; fortunately, the amendment was never ratified and thus paradox was averted.

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