As of Dec. 7, Raphael Warnock has officially been re-elected as Georgia’s second senator after a close race with Herschel Walker, a former NFL player that had garnered support from Trump. This race is a huge victory for the Democratic Party, who narrowly lost control of the House, but with Warnock’s win, will continue to control the Senate. It is also the first time since 1943 that a political party hasn’t lost a single incumbent seat during an election, which may mark a change in political polarization. After a very contentious midterm election — with a variety of Gen Z candidates on the ballot — election season has come to a close, but the real work of politicians is yet to be done.
After the results were announced, Warnock spoke in Atlanta, saying, “After a hard-fought campaign — or, should I say, campaigns — it is my honor to utter the four most powerful words ever spoken in a democracy: The people have spoken.” He continued, touting the importance of voting regardless of political affiliation or race, insisting, “Democrats, Republicans, independents, should all be able to agree that whether you’re black, brown, white or any other color, no matter what neighborhood you live in, in the United States of America you should have the same ability to exercise your right to vote.”
The Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE) of Tufts University estimates that 27% of Gen Z voted in this year’s midterm. Although this estimate isn’t as high as Gen Z turnout in the 2018 midterms, which was 28%, it is significantly higher than before 2018, when the voting rate remained around 20%.
Senate Majority leader Chuck Schumer was quick to praise American voters for getting out the vote and showing up to the polls. “This election, both in November and now here on December the 6th, now shows that Americans believe in democracy,” Schumer said during a news conference on Capitol Hill. “The American people rejected so many of this MAGA extremism — both in knocking down and not voting for extreme MAGA candidates … Many of the voters in the middle came over to us because they worried what the Republican Party under MAGA control would do to our democracy.”
What makes this Senate majority so important to Democrats is how it impacts their ability to push for and pass legislation. The now 51-49 split allows Democrats to dominate in Congressional committees, which gives them greater influence in legislation and nominations for positions such as Supreme Court justices and federal judges.
With less conservative pushback, Democrats will have an easier time advocating for some of Gen Z’s most important issues, such as protecting reproductive healthcare and getting Biden’s student debt relief plan back off the ground. NBC News’ Exit Poll found that 61% of midterm voters were dissatisfied or angry with the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade, and 71% of those voters voted Democratic. This is significant, especially considering various laws that have been proposed in Congress regarding the issue, but haven’t been passed due to Republican influence. For instance, the Let Doctors Provide Reproductive Health Care Act, which intends to protect doctors who provide abortions from right-wing threats, was blocked back in August by Republican senators.
Additionally, with the recent UVA and Colorado shootings top of mind for many Americans, a Democratic majority may make the passage of gun control legislation more likely. Back in July, Congress passed a bipartisan gun control law, but Democrats were forced to make major concessions in order to gain Republican support. These concessions included raising the age for buying assault rifles from 18 to 21, requiring waiting periods after buying a gun, and a ban on high-capacity magazines, all of which could have significantly reduced the amount of gun violence in America. With the Senate majority, Democratic members of Congress may be able to use increased funds and numbers to support and urge other members of Congress to support these policies.
Despite this win, the Democratic Party has much to do if they want to have a productive next few years. While their lack of control of the House will pose an obstacle for their legislative agenda since all laws must pass the House before the Senate, the Senate majority will have a huge influence on their ability to represent Gen Z.