The presidential election has been decided. In Georgia, however, it will now be seen how great Biden’s creative power will be in the White House. Can the Democrats use their momentum?
Photo series with 14 pictures
Georgia doesn’t leave Donald Trump alone. On Saturday he picks up the phone. A day later, a recording of a phone call goes around the world in which the incumbent President of the United States calls on the supreme election overseer in the southern state to undo his electoral defeat there against the Democrat Joe Biden. Trump’s action, criticized as an attempt at extortion, shines another spotlight on the so-called peach state, where two runoff elections on Tuesday will decide Biden’s creative power as president.
With your hands folded, your eyes fixed on the ground – the election campaign event in the city of the peach tree, Peachtree City, begins with a prayer. Around 60 people have gathered at the regional airport to see Kelly Loeffler, who, like David Perdue, wants to defend her seat in the powerful US Senate against the Democratic candidates Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock. “Father, we thank you for leaders like Senator Loeffler and Senator Perdue who trust you and listen to you.” Small but noisy machines take off and land a few meters away.
“We are the firewall against socialism”
The 50-year-old businesswoman Loeffler rarely mentions her direct counterpart Raphael Warnock (51) by name only. For them, the black pastor from the Baptist church of civil rights activist Martin Luther King Jr. is the “radical, liberal Raphael Warnock”. Again and again she pronounces this tongue twister. “We are literally the firewall to stop socialism,” says Loeffler. Like Trump, Perdue (71) and Loeffler stylize themselves as political outsiders. The Democrat Warnock accuses the millionaire of having used her office in the Senate to enrich herself further – and of having been preoccupied with “slandering” him during the election campaign.
“I don’t know much about her, but she’s conservative,” says Lisa Shadle, who listens to Loeffler with her husband David and their children. They are worried about election day: they fear the idea that the democratic candidates will prevail. That would give Biden’s Democrats a majority in both chambers of parliament in Washington – and the future president crucial support in the implementation of his plans and the appointment of members of the government. “Our country will go down the drain if the Democrats win,” says retired military man Cele Eifert, who has not yet come to terms with Trump’s defeat. “It’s like a last stand.”
“Feel this power!”
Less than two hours from Peachtree City, loudspeakers boom “I like the way you move” by the hip-hop duo OutKast when the Democrat Jon Ossoff steps in front of the Athens City Hall. He describes himself as a “young, Jewish journalist, son of an immigrant” whose mentor was civil rights activist John Lewis. Several hundred people stand in front of the 33-year-old – he no longer has to convince them of himself. From the crowd, posters with his likeness and his main promises protrude: health, jobs, justice.
Ossoff encourages his supporters to use the few remaining hours to motivate other potential voters. His opponent Perdue’s hands are tied in the last legs of the election campaign: He is in quarantine due to corona contact. “We have to prove to the world what Georgia stands for,” says Ossoff. “Georgia has a chance to determine the next chapter in American history. Georgia has that power, feels that power!”
Every vote counts
Law student Frederick King and three of his friends understand the importance of voting. The 24-year-old has relatives in Germany – and he is impressed that Georgia is suddenly known to many there too and that individual districts are even being talked about internationally. The election will determine whether Biden will pass “one law after the next” or be blocked by the Republicans, says Christopher Summers. He is originally from South Carolina, where Republicans have traditionally been certain to win elections. “There are states where your voice doesn’t mean much. Here it is crucial,” says Summers of Georgia.
In surveys, there are signs of an extremely close race. A summary of the latest results from the statisticians of “FiveThirtyEight” sees a wafer-thin advantage for the Democratic candidates Ossoff and Warnock. More than three million people in Georgia have voted before the actual election day.
Election campaign until the last second
Both camps still want to mobilize as many eligible voters as possible, which is why Biden and Trump are on their way to Georgia on Monday. The current Vice President Mike Pence is also trying to get votes for the Republicans, and the future Vice President Kamala Harris was in Savannah on Sunday.
Away from the stage, the efforts also continue until the end. For Marilyn Wilbur, it’s like a military operation defending democracy. The war veteran and numerous other volunteers for the Unite Here union made her way to Georgia in late November to use her experiences in her home state of Arizona before the presidential election. In Arizona, as in Georgia, Republican presidential candidates had won for years – in 2020 Biden triumphed over Trump. The Unite Here volunteers see this as their merit.
“Mom, I thought you already saved the world!” Said Wilbur’s son when it came to her to go to Georgia for the momentous runoff elections. She told the 17-year-old with autism that she would have to do it again if everything in Arizona wasn’t supposed to have been in vain. By Tuesday evening, Wilbur and the more than 300 other voters want to have knocked on a total of 450,000 doors. “I have to finish this mission,” says Wilbur. “It will work.”