Big hitters and big dollars from both national parties have poured into Georgia for a race that will determine the balance of power in the Democratic-controlled Senate next year.
If Republican Herschel Walker wins, the parties will once again split the Senate 50-50, with Vice President Kamala Harris offering a deciding vote and the Democrats any possible advantage.
Democrats will control the chamber after party incumbents held their ground and John Fetterman of Pennsylvania secured a seat held by incumbent GOP Senator Pat Toomey.
But it remains a race with serious consequences.
In the short term, a victory for Sen. Raphael Warnock would give Democrats more power as they seek to better control the procedural life of the Senate, which could help them confirm President Joe Biden’s nominees more quickly. West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin would also lose some influence if Majority Leader Chuck Schumer had a vote to spare, which could take on added significance given that Manchin faces re-election in 2024.
Senate Minority Whip John Thune, a Republican from South Dakota, explained the issues last week.
“Having a fairly divided Senate means you get equal representation on committees,” Thune said. “We managed to retain some bad candidates at the committee level. So (the race in Georgia had) had real consequences.
Thune also admitted his party could use a morale boost after underperforming midterm expectations, despite the House narrowly taking control.
“It would be nice to get a win on the books, and especially in a state like Georgia, where frankly we think we should win,” Thune said.
Beyond that, looking ahead to the next election in 2024, Republicans — already with a brighter card than this year — would be in a better position to win back a majority, possibly a sizable one, if Walker can boost their numbers now.