What does Raphael Warnock’s win mean for Georgia and the Democrats?

A man speaks in front of a bus.
The Rev. Raphael Warnock met with supporters as he campaigned to become the first Black U.S. Senator from Georgia on Tuesday in Marietta, Ga.
Megan Varner | Getty Images file

The political landscape in Georgia and the nation suddenly looks different. The Rev. Raphael Warnock won his run-off race for the U.S. Senate, beating Republican incumbent Kelly Loeffler and becoming the first Black senator from Georgia. And, on Wednesday afternoon, Democratic challenger Jon Ossoff widened his lead over Republican incumbent David Perdue to win Georgia’s second Senate seat.

What does Warnock’s historic win mean for generations of Black southern voters? How did Georgia turn from solidly conservative to a battleground state? 

“People might think it was Atlanta voters who did this, but the data coming out  shows, yes, there were urban voters who voted for Democrats, but also rural and suburban voters,” says Andrea Benjamin, an associate professor of African and African American studies at The University of Oklahoma. “It’s a stereotype that when states go blue it’s only because of the urban areas.” 

MPR News host Kerri Miller spoke with Benjamin early Wednesday about the coalitions that led to Warnock’s win and what it means to have the Senate split equally between Democrats and Republicans.

Guest

  • Andrea Benjamin is an associate professor of African and African American studies at The University of Oklahoma and author of “Racial Coalition Building in Local Elections: Elite Cues and Cross-Ethnic Voting.” 

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