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Dems go two for two in Georgia

It’s hard to talk about anything else, given the violent debacle in Washington yesterday, but the two Democratic Senate candidates in Georgia won their runoff elections, giving control of the Senate to the Democrats, and putting an emphatic final exclamation point on the Trump regime. I mean, it wouldn’t have taken much from Trump to make the Republican candidates’ lives and elections a lot easier, and he took every opportunity along the way to do the opposite. Maybe, just maybe, the sting of losing these elections and with them the ability to thoroughly block President Biden’s agenda will make Republicans realize that if nothing else, it’s now bad political strategy to defend and coddle Donald Trump. At least some of them are likely savvy enough to acknowledge that.

Let us also tip our hats to the great irony of the legal need for a runoff in Georgia in the first place. Like some other Southern states, Georgia required a majority of the vote to win statewide in November, which is a Jim Crow-era relic designed to make it harder for Black candidates to win. Had Georgia operated like many other states, including Texas, David Perdue would have won in November. To be sure, so would Raphael Warnock have won then, but just splitting the two races would have been enough for Republicans to maintain control of the Senate. I hope that rubs a little extra salt into the wound.

As to what Democrats in other states can learn from this experience, I’d say the best lesson is the constant, in depth, personal organizing, which is a long-term investment. Texas has different demographics than Georgia, though as I have noted, there are parts of the state where the specific approach Stacey Abrams took, of registering and empowering Black voters in rural areas, would likely pay dividends. I’m certainly in favor of asking the leaders of the movements that helped win these elections for their advice, and then listening very carefully.

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7 Comments

  1. Ross says:

    Kuff, are you really arguing that in a 5 person race, the candidate who gets 25% of the vote while the others each get 19% should win? That’s ludicrous, and is the reason we had Rick Perry win in 2006 with a 39% plurality. No one should be elected without getting 50% or more of the votes. At least until we have proportional representation.

  2. Ross, the situation where this is relevant is for regular November elections. The outlier 2006 governor’s race aside, the scenario you suggest is rare enough that I’m not too worried about it. I’m fine with runoffs for special elections, as Sen-elect Warnock had been in. I’m just mostly laughing at the irony of the runoff system in a type of election where very few states have such a setup, coming back to bite the Republicans.

    (This is where someone will come in and note that all of this can be avoided with ranked choice voting. I acknowledge the truth of that statement, while remaining unconvinced that RCV is on balance better than having runoffs.)

  3. brad says:

    Kuff,

    Coming in and noting.

    If you like wasting money on a run-off election instead of utilizing RCV, that is your choice.

  4. Flypusher says:

    Adding my endorsement for RCV.

    Also how sweet it is to see the Dems sweep GA. The irony is that Warnock and Ossoff are far likelier to do more tangible good for those bitter GOP blue collar types who voted for a couple of insider traders.

  5. Christopher Busby says:

    Ranked Choice Voting. We should bring it here to Texas esp for party primaries and special elections.

  6. Wolfgang says:

    RE: the basics of proportional representation (PR) and “ranking choices”

    PR only works with multi-member districts and multi-member bodies, typically legislative, though it could — in theory — also be used for appellate courts. Not that the Texas Commission on Judicial Selection would even consider that possibility. So it can’t be used to fill individual vacancies.

    This is indicated by the name for this type of electoral system: “proportional” refers to the relationship of vote share and seat/mandate share (of political parties, not demographic categories defined by race, ethnicity, sex, etc.). PR requires that votes be cast for parties or party slates because that’s the basis for commensurate allocation of seats in the multi-member body, though there are variants of PR that allow voters to ALSO express preferences for individual candidates. In some jurisdictions, voters can express such preferences by casting a preference vote for a particular candidate of the chosen party, and such preferences may then alter the rank-order of candidates submitted by the party (party lists) if there are enough of them for particular candidates to meet a preset quota or percentage. In other words, voters can override the ranking of candidates as submitted by their party.

    Another variant of PR still allows for one-on-one representation of districts, such as the one used in Germany, where people get to vote for a candidate to represent their district, but half of the seats in parliament (or some percentage) are allocated based on PR, with an adjustment for those elected directly to achieve overall proportionality of the legislative body as a whole.

    For single offices (such as chief executive, whether president or governor), the better methods are either absolute-majority requirement for winner with run-off if necessary, two-round system (50%+ required in 1st round, plurality in second round, from which candidates with less than a certain set % of votes are eliminated), or single transferable vote (STV) / ranked choice voting systems, where you vote for your favorite candidates (plural) in order of your preference, and your second-preference candidate gets your vote in the event your first preference gets eliminated in the counting because he/she doesn’t have enough support from other voters. So, in Texas, supporters of Green and Libertarian candidates could cast a vote for their true preferred candidate without wasting their vote because they can pick the “lesser evil” from the two candidates of the major party as their second choice. This would predictably increase electoral support for the third parties (in 1st preference votes), and should affect the dynamics of the competition by giving major parties a reason to compete for 2nd-preference votes of minor-party supporters. Even if the 1st-preference votes of the small-party supporters don’t lead to election victories, they would at least play a signaling function.

    Unlike PR (which only works to select representatives to multi-member bodies), these alternative voting systems are available for any elective position, including individual elections for seats in a multi-member body.

    The key impediment for electoral reform, of course, is political resistance of those that benefit from the status quo (the existing electoral arrangements/law) and hold the power to block any change. That said, a crisis situation could result in a new system being adopted if the old has definitely become unworkable.

  7. voter_worker says:

    Considering the never-ending saga of COH District B, I am ready for ranked choice in City elections. Samples of this type ballot are viewable online and they don’t require any special expertise to navigate as far as I can tell.