Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock of Georgia has defeated his Republican challenger Herschel Walker in their closely watched runoff election, according to an Associated Press projection.
While Democrats already had maintained their grip on the Senate by winning other crucial races in last month’s midterm elections, Warnock’s win means his party will have a 51-49 majority in the Senate for the next two years of President Joe Biden’s term.
That’s an upgrade from their situation over the past two years, when the chamber has been split 50-50, and they’ve controlled it only because Vice President Kamala Harris can cast tiebreaking votes.
Democrats now are expected to adjust ratios on Senate committees so they have a one-vote majority on each panel. Currently, committee ratios are set at 50-50 to reflect the chamber’s split.
A Stifel analyst has warned investors that committees next year could end up issuing subpoenas without Republican support, increasing headline risk for some sectors such as tech
A 51-49 Senate also is expected to lessen the influence of two moderate Democratic senators — West Virginia’s Joe Manchin and Arizona’s Kyrsten Sinema.
Manchin derailed Biden’s Build Back Better package a year ago, and Democratic-run Washington ended up passing a scaled-back measure in August. Sinema’s recent moves, meanwhile, have included successfully opposing changes to the so-called carried-interest loophole that allows private-equity firms to pay lower tax rates.
Walker’s loss is another blow for Donald Trump as the former president ramps up his 2024 White House campaign. Trump already saw other allies flop in their Senate midterm races, with, for example, Mehmet Oz coming up short in Pennsylvania and Blake Masters going down in Arizona.
Warnock had been favored to win by betting markets such as PredictIt, but Cook Political Report said the contest would be close and rated it as a toss-up.
Walker faced criticism from both Democrats and Republicans for his past treatment of women and gaffes while campaigning.
The former football star’s loss means the 2022 midterms end on a downbeat note for Republicans, and that’s after their hopes for a red wave were dashed. The GOP took control of the House of Representatives, but will have a slim majority in that chamber.
Analysts had said voters appeared increasingly focused on issues on which Republicans claimed high ground such as inflation. But exit polls on Nov. 8 suggested the party performed worse than expected because many Democrats and independents voted partly to show their disapproval of Trump — and those voters were energized by the Supreme Court’s June decision that overturned Roe v. Wade.