The 3 winners and 3 losers of the Georgia ballot

A month after Election Day, Sen. Raphael Warnock’s victory on the Georgia Senate ballot finally ended the 2022 midterm elections Tuesday night. The victory of the incumbent Democrat former Georgia soccer star Herschel Walker was the grand finale of the entire election cycle and tightened Democratic control over the US Senate in the process preparing the ground for 2024.

These are three of the biggest winners — and three of the biggest losers — of the night.

Loser: Herschel Walker

It wasn’t just because Herschel Walker lost on Tuesday night. That’s how he lost.

Walker became a national laughingstock during his campaign. The underdog Republican seemed to be a constant source of scandal. Almost every day, there was a new revelation about Walker fathering children out of wedlock, his alleged domestic abuse, and the anti-abortion politician he paid for abortions. Walker denied the last two allegations. It was so bad that his son even celebrated the loss of Walker on Twitter.

Plus, Walker was a historically terrible candidate. He was prone to confusing riffs on topics like werewolves fighting vampires while on the stump and succeeded fumbled interviews even with friendly conservative outlets. As a result, he was often accompanied by sitting Republican senators like Lindsey Graham or Ted Cruz when he appeared on television and sat smiling as they answered questions.

Walker had a troubled history and had even written a book about her history of mental illness, in which she confessed to domestic violence. But before his run, he was better known as a legendary footballer from the University of Georgia who led the Bulldogs to a national championship in 1980.

Now, he’s become a political punchline who’s as notorious for his failed and scandal-ridden Senate bid as he is for his football stardom.

Loser: Donald Trump

The the midterms have been a disaster for Donald Trumpand Warnock’s victory simply added an exclamation point to the former president’s inability to establish himself as general election king.

Walker had been Trump’s personal choice as a Senate candidate in Georgia and turned out to be the only statewide Republican candidate to lose to Peach State in 2022. In contrast, other Republicans such as Kemp and Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger not only won their primary against Trump-backed challengers, they won comfortably in November, running far ahead of Walker.

In other swing states, Trump-backed Senate candidates have suffered embarrassing losses, including Arizona’s Blake Masters and Pennsylvania’s Mehmet Oz, along with a host of other candidates who have embraced the former president’s lies about the 2020 presidential election. While Trump still retained his foothold in the party, the loss of Walker serves to bolster why so many others Republicans are sceptical on his 2024 campaign: It’s increasingly clear that Trump alienates the swing voters the GOP needs to win.

Winner: Joe Manchin

Warnock’s win means Democrats now have 51 Senate seats, and that gives Senator Joe Manchin much more freedom.

While the West Virginia Democrat will no longer play at being king of politics as he has for the past two years in the Senate, he now faces a bid for re-election in 2024. Though any campaign in dark red West Virginia will be a battle in rising for Manchin — yeah, Republican Rep. Alex Mooney has launched a campaign bid, and incumbent Governor Jim Justice is also exploring: Democratic extra vote in the Senate gives Manchin breathing room to distance himself from more progressive Democrats and make the case to voters on his political independence. It means the Democrats don’t need Manchin’s vote for everything and the West Virginia Democrat can safely vote against his party.

Winner: Kamala Harris

Warnock’s win means that after two long years, Vice President Kamala Harris doesn’t have to do that job the Constitution forces her to do. The Founders gave the vice president only one explicit task: “The vice president of the United States will be president of the Senate, but he will have no vote, unless they are equally divided.”

And, for the past two years, the Senate has been 50-50 with equal numbers of Republicans and Democrats. This meant Harris had to cast 26 play-off votes in less than two years in charge. Now, with Democrats holding 51 Senate seats, Harris is slightly less tied to her day job and has more freedom to fill a role in the executive branch.

The Democratic majority in the Senate would free Harris until he leaves Washington and not only fulfill a traditional duty of vice presidents, attending funerals abroad as a representative of the US government, but also hit the road as a White House surrogate.

Winner: Georgia Blue

Georgia is still a swing state. Even after the Democrats have won key victories there in 2020 with Joe Biden winning the general election and Warnock e His. Jon Osoff winning their Senate seats in a runoff, there was still some question as to how much Georgia had changed.

After all, Biden’s win was so narrow it took days to call, and the runoff happened in early January when Trump was pushing his grievances out loud on the 2020 election. And, this November, Republicans swept their statewide races with Kemp handily sweeping Democrat Stacey Abrams in a rematch of their 2018 race. Georgia’s realignment was clarified by the Warnock’s easy victory in Cobb County, a prosperous suburb north of Atlanta that had been the focus of Republican efforts to turn Georgia red in the late 20th century. Southwest of Atlanta, Warnock has nearly conquered Fayette County, where the suburbs of the metropolis are transformed into suburbs. With Metro Atlanta dominating the state, Warnock’s margins in these areas suggest that demographic trends in Georgia will only continue to boost Democrats in the short term.

Loser: Mitch McConnell

For the third time, Mitch McConnell will fail to regain a majority in the Senate in a cycle in which Republican primary voters have nominated weak candidates.

In 2010, Democrats held the Senate by the skin of their teeth after Republicans nominated weak candidates in states like Delaware, Colorado and Nevada. In 2012, the same thing happened when Republicans nominated candidates like Todd Akin in Missouri and Richard Mourdock in Indiana, both of whom made rape gaffes during their campaigns. The cycle repeated itself in 2022, as Trump-backed candidates like Masters, Oz, and Walker cost Republicans their seats.

The result is that McConnell will spend another two years in the minority, forced to play defense against the Democrats in the Senate and unable to block Joe Biden’s candidates.

Herschel Walker shaking hands with Donald Trump.

Michael Zarrilli/Getty Images