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    Losing Another Runoff, Georgia Republicans Weigh an Election Shake-Up

    Some in the party said that additional changes to election rules were likely, after Senator Raphael Warnock’s victory put a new spotlight on a major 2021 voting law passed by the G.O.P.As Georgia Democrats won their third Senate runoff election in two years, the party proved it had crafted an effective strategy for triumphing in a decades-old system created to sustain segregationist power and for overcoming an array of efforts to making voting more difficult. Republicans, meanwhile, were quietly cursing the runoff system, or at least their strategy for winning under a state law they wrote after losing the last election.The various post-mortems over how Georgia’s runoff rules shaped the state’s Senate outcome on Tuesday put a spotlight on a major voting law passed by the Republican-led General Assembly last year. Some Republicans acknowledged that their efforts to limit in-person early voting days might have backfired, while others encouraged lawmakers to consider additional restrictions next year.With Georgia poised to remain a critical political battleground and with Republicans holding gerrymandered majorities in both chambers of its state legislature, some in the party said that additional election law changes were likely.Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, a Republican who oversees the state’s voting procedures, said in an interview on Wednesday that there would be a debate next year over potential adjustments to Georgia’s runoff laws and procedures after Senator Raphael Warnock’s victory.Mr. Raffensperger said he would present three proposals to lawmakers. They include forcing large counties to open more early-voting locations to reduce hourslong lines like the ones that formed at many Metro Atlanta sites last week; lowering the threshold candidates must achieve to avoid a runoff to 45 percent from 50 percent; and instituting a ranked-choice instant-runoff system that would not require voters to come back to the polls again after the general election.Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said there would be a debate next year over potential changes to Georgia’s runoff laws and procedures. Audra Melton for The New York Times“The elected legislators need to have information so they can look at all the different options that they have and really see what they’re comfortable with,” Mr. Raffensperger said.Understand the Georgia Senate RunoffNew Battlegrounds: Senator Raphael Warnock’s win shows how Georgia and Arizona are poised to be the next kingmakers of presidential politics, Lisa Lerer writes.A Rising Democratic Star: Mr. Warnock, a son of Savannah public housing who rose to become Georgia’s first Black senator, is a pastor and politician who sees voting as a form of prayer.Trump’s Bad Day: The loss by Herschel Walker, the Republican candidate, capped one of the worst days for former President Donald J. Trump since he announced his 2024 bid.Republicans are not the only ones hoping to end Georgia’s requirement that a runoff take place if no candidate in a general election wins at least half of the vote. Democrats have long viewed the practice — a vestige of racist 1960s efforts to keep Black candidates or candidates backed by Black voters from taking office — as an additional hurdle for working-class people of color.Park Cannon, a Democratic state representative from Atlanta who was arrested last year after knocking on the closed door behind which Gov. Brian Kemp signed the state’s voting law, said that last Friday, she had driven for 30 minutes and then waited an hour to vote early in person.Runoffs, Ms. Cannon said, “are not to the benefit of working families.” She added, “It’s very difficult to, within four weeks of taking time off to vote, have to do that again.”Since the law was passed in 2021, Georgia Democrats have criticized the new barriers to voting that it set in place. During the runoff, Mr. Warnock, a Democrat, spared no opportunity to highlight the law and characterize it as the latest in a decades-long push to minimize the influence of Black voters and anyone who opposed Republican control.His stump speech featured a regular refrain reminding supporters that Georgia Republicans had sought to prohibit counties from opening for in-person early voting on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, after the state’s Republican attorney general and Mr. Raffensperger concluded that doing so was in violation of state law. Mr. Warnock and Democrats sued, and a state judge agreed to allow for the Saturday voting.“People showed up in record numbers within the narrow confines of the time given to them by a state legislature that saw our electoral strength the last time and went after it with surgical precision,” Mr. Warnock said in his victory speech on Tuesday night in Atlanta. “The fact that voters worked so hard to overcome the hardship put in front of them does not eliminate the fact that hardship was put there in the first place.”Because of the new voting law, Tuesday’s runoff was held four weeks after the general election, rather than the nine-week runoff period under which Georgia’s high-profile Senate races in early 2021 unfolded. The nine-week runoff period that year had been ordered by a federal judge; runoff contests for state elections have always operated on a four-week timeline.Tuesday’s contest also included fewer days to vote and new restrictions on absentee ballots — and it ended with virtually the same result.The 3.5 million votes cast in Tuesday’s runoff amounted to 90 percent of the general-election turnout in the Senate race on Nov. 8. In 2021, when Mr. Warnock first won his seat, runoff turnout was 91 percent of the general-election turnout, which was higher because 2020 was a presidential year. The outpouring of voters in both years was orders of magnitude higher than in any prior Georgia runoff.A get-out-the-vote event on Tuesday near a polling site in Atlanta.Nicole Buchanan for The New York TimesThe booming turnout this year has led Georgia Republicans to insist that their voting law was not suppressive.“We had what I think was a nearly flawless execution of two huge elections in terms of turnout and in terms of accuracy and integrity,” said Butch Miller, a Republican leader in the Georgia State Senate who helped write the voting law and is leaving the chamber after losing the primary for lieutenant governor.Mr. Miller said he “didn’t care for” the way that some counties, including large Democratic-leaning ones in the Atlanta area, had opened for extra early voting days, a sentiment echoed by other Georgia Republicans after Mr. Warnock’s victory.The new law evidently had an effect on how Georgians voted. In the January 2021 runoffs, 24 percent of the vote came via absentee ballots that had been mailed to voters. On Tuesday, just 5 percent of the vote came through the mail, a result of restrictions on who could receive an absentee ballot and the shortening of the runoff period, which made it more difficult to request and receive a ballot within the allotted time period.The 2021 law also cut the amount of in-person early voting days to a minimum of five, but allowed Georgia’s counties to add more days before the state’s mandated early-voting week. The Warnock campaign pressed the state’s Democratic counties to open for early voting on the weekend after Thanksgiving, giving voters who were more likely to vote for the senator extra days to do so.But then Mr. Raffensperger sought to enforce a state law that forbids in-person early voting on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, leading to Mr. Warnock’s successful lawsuit.Jason Shepherd, a former chairman of the Cobb County Republican Party, said the push to stop Saturday voting “wasn’t worth the fight” and served to energize Democratic voters.“You can be completely right and it can send the wrong message, because it plays into the Democrats’ narrative about voter suppression,” Mr. Shepherd said on Wednesday.In the end, 28 of Georgia’s 159 counties opened for extra in-person early voting days. Of those, 17 ended up backing Mr. Warnock and 11 went for his Republican challenger, the former football star Herschel Walker.Compared with weekdays, when the entire state was open for in-person early voting, relatively few votes were cast on the extra voting days. Just over 167,000 votes in all were cast combined on the Saturday and Sunday of Thanksgiving weekend, along with the Tuesday and Wednesday before the holiday, when just two counties opened for voting. By contrast, 285,000 to 352,000 votes were cast statewide on each day of weekday early voting.But voters who cast ballots during those extra in-person early voting days were likely to tilt heavily toward Mr. Warnock.The largest 14 counties to back Mr. Warnock — including seven in metropolitan Atlanta — all opened for extra early voting days. Just two of the 11 largest counties to back Mr. Walker opened for extra in-person early voting days.Maya King More

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    Turnout by Republicans Was Great. It’s Just That Many of Them Didn’t Vote for Republicans.

    No, the main G.O.P. problem wasn’t prioritizing Election Day voting over early voting.Republicans turned out in force, but Herschel Walker still lost in Georgia.Nicole Buchanan for The New York TimesAfter yet another disappointing showing for Republicans in Georgia’s Senate runoff on Tuesday, some conservatives — like Sean Hannity, Newt Gingrich and Kevin McCarthy — have begun to point to a surprising culprit: a failure to take advantage of early voting.The theory seems to be that Republicans are losing because early voting is giving Democrats a turnout edge. It follows a similar conversation after the midterm elections, when a chorus of conservatives said Republicans needed to start encouraging mail voting.But as more data becomes available on turnout in this year’s election, it is quite clear that turnout was not the main problem facing Republicans.In state after state, the final turnout data shows that registered Republicans turned out at a higher rate — and in some places a much higher rate — than registered Democrats, including in many of the states where Republicans were dealt some of their most embarrassing losses.Instead, high-profile Republicans like Herschel Walker in Georgia or Blake Masters in Arizona lost because Republican-leaning voters decided to cast ballots for Democrats, even as they voted for Republican candidates for U.S. House or other down-ballot races in their states.Understand the Georgia Senate RunoffNew Battlegrounds: Senator Raphael Warnock’s win shows how Georgia and Arizona are poised to be the next kingmakers of presidential politics, Lisa Lerer writes.A Rising Democratic Star: Mr. Warnock, a son of Savannah public housing who rose to become Georgia’s first Black senator, is a pastor and politician who sees voting as a form of prayer.Trump’s Bad Day: The loss by Herschel Walker, the Republican candidate, capped one of the worst days for former President Donald J. Trump since he announced his 2024 bid.Georgia is a fine example. While Mr. Walker may blame turnout for his poor showing in November and earlier this week, other Republican candidates seemed to have no problem at all. Gov. Brian Kemp won by nearly eight points over Stacey Abrams; Republican candidates for House won the most votes on the same day.Yet Senator Raphael Warnock won in Georgia anyway because a large group of voters willing to back other Republicans weren’t willing to back Mr. Walker.The final turnout figures make it clear that Republicans — including Mr. Walker — benefited from very favorable turnout last month. Unlike in recent years, Republican primary voters were likelier to vote than Democrats (by a modest margin). Meanwhile, the white turnout rate exceeded the Black turnout rate by the widest margin since 2006.We went back and looked at the respondents to our pre-election Times/Siena survey, and matched them to post-election vote turnout records. We found that the respondents who said they backed Mr. Walker were actually likelier to vote than those who said they backed Mr. Warnock.But Mr. Walker still lost.On Tuesday, Mr. Walker lost again. This time, he lost by three points — two points worse than in November. The final turnout data won’t be in for weeks, but for now it is reasonable to suppose that Mr. Warnock fared better because the turnout was incrementally more favorable to him than it was in November.But that doesn’t necessarily mean Democrats enjoyed a great turnout. All of the Republicans running for statewide office — other than Mr. Walker — could have easily survived an electorate that was two points less favorable.By our estimates, the 2022 electorate was several points more favorable to Republicans in Georgia than the 2020 electorate — which wasn’t great for Democrats, either.Any Democratic gains in the runoff almost certainly weren’t because of early voting. After all, this election was held with just one week of early voting, as opposed to three weeks in the general election. The number of Election Day voters actually increased in the runoff. So did the share of votes cast on Election Day. But it was the Democrat who fared better.Georgia is just one example of a broader national turnout gap, including in many of the places where Republicans blame early voting for their woes.Take Maricopa County in Arizona. It’s home to Phoenix and around 70 percent of the state’s voters. Some Republicans say — without any clear evidence — they faltered in Arizona because some Maricopa voters were unable to cast ballots at the polls on Election Day, but the final turnout data shows that 75 percent of registered Republicans turned out, compared with 69 percent of Democrats. That was enough to yield an electorate in which registered Republicans outnumbered Democrats by nine percentage points. Yet Republicans like Mr. Masters and Kari Lake lost their races for Senate and governor.Or consider Clark County in Nevada. There, 67 percent of Republicans voted, compared with 57 percent of Democrats, implying that Republicans probably outnumbered Democrats statewide. Yet the Democrat — Catherine Cortez Masto — prevailed in the Senate while Republicans won the governorship and also won the most votes for the House.Wherever I’ve dug into the data, I see a similar story. You can read comprehensive analyses of North Carolina, Florida or New York, all showing a considerable Republican edge as well.In the key Senate states mentioned in this article, Republican House candidates received more votes than Democratic ones. The final Times/Siena polls showed that voters in Pennsylvania, Georgia, Arizona and Nevada preferred Republican control of the Senate.It’s fair to say voters in these key states probably preferred Republican control of government, in no small part because more Republicans showed up to vote. They just didn’t find Republican candidates they wanted to support at the top of the ticket. More

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    Wait! Wait! Georgia’s Over?

    As the sun sinks over Georgia, we bid adieu to the Senate runoff election that seems to have been contested since the beginning of time.Yes, dinosaurs once ruled the earth and Senate candidate Herschel Walker probably has a theory about how they could be killed by a werewolf. Or maybe a vampire.This certainly was a race to remember. But now it’s over; Georgia very rightly decided that Senator Raphael Warnock, an estimable candidate, was better for the job than a guy who couldn’t seem to be clear about how many children he’d fathered or abortions he’d paid for.But … Wait! Wait! Warnock got only a little more than 51 percent of the vote. That means more than 1.7 million Georgians thought it’d be a better plan to have a senator whose theory on global warming is: “Don’t we have enough trees?”And who had his legal address in Texas for tax-saving purposes.Let’s face it: Warnock was running against one of the worst candidates in modern American history. Who once referred to the upcoming election as an “erection.” It was one of the most expensive races of all time, during which the Warnock folks were able to buy about $54 million in TV ads — more than twice what Walker could afford.Warnock, a much-respected minister at Martin Luther King’s old church, had served in the Senate with dignity. (His maiden speech was a call for — what could be more daring? — making it easier for people to exercise the right to vote.) His campaign was as dignified as Walker’s was … not. You’d think he’d at least win by four or five points.Georgia’s election is part of the “Wait! Wait! There’s More!” theme that’s been dominating our politics lately.Good news always seems to have a disturbing downside. And it’s never just one weird/bad/unnerving thing. You think this is all because of Donald Trump?Well, the Herschel Walker candidacy sure was. How many times have we heard the stirring story about Trump first noticing Walker’s great gifts when the young man joined the United States Football League, of which Trump was, of course, a great team owner?Walker played for three seasons with the U.S.F.L., and really impressed Trump, who was also otherwise engaged in running the whole league into the ground.OK, forget the football stuff. That’s hardly core to Trump’s identity, which he’s always assured us is that of a great businessman.Wait! Wait! (You knew that was coming, right?) This week the Trump Organization was found guilty of tax fraud and other assorted crimes. Seventeen counts in all, including giving free off-the-books-don’t-tell-the-I.R.S. cars and apartments and cash to top employees.Yep. However, Trump wasn’t really on trial himself. It was just his people.But wait, wait … there are other potential crimes under investigation. What about the whole Mar-a-Lago classified records thing?Well, it’s hardly the same as that mean old New York court case. Our former president probably feels he deserves kudos for personally hiring people to search his golf course and Trump Tower and the storage closet at Mar-a-Lago to make sure there weren’t any overlooked official documents there.But wait, wait, wait, wait … Those papers were all supposed to go to the National Archives, right?Yeah, but the Trumpians will assure you that we’ve moved far away from the central matter of the Donald’s identity as a wealth-building genius. Snatching up official presidential documents and stashing them in your private home has nothing to do with bad business practices whatsoever.We certainly are living in a time of wait-wait. Whatever we thought yesterday turns out to be way less interesting and less awful than what we learn today. Imagine all those stolid Republican politicians who’ve spent years finding ways to express support for their former president when he says something … scary.You know, you just get used to smiling vaguely when a reporter asks you whether you think it’s strange that the former president was hanging out with an antisemitic rapper and an antisemitic white supremacist. Or why he was telling the nation nobody would be able to get a turkey for Thanksgiving. And you’re feeling you’ve got things pretty well in hand and then — wait, wait! He just called for terminating the Constitution.We’ve been going down this road a long time, folks, and things are the way they are. I don’t know about you, but I just want to forget about Georgia and Senate races and get back to thinking about a future when we’ll have different stuff to talk about.Wait, wait — stuff like the next presidential election? Trump tooting his horn a trillion times a day while folks like the governor of Florida, Ron DeSantis, try to help you really get to know them. You’re going to see so much of those folks, Herschel Walker will begin to seem like an old pal you should have invited on a trip to the Catskills.OK, maybe not. But I hear Joe Biden’s pretty much got his hat in the ring. How many times a day are we going to have to hear Republicans mention the possibility of an 86-year-old in the White House?Gee, at this very moment, that doesn’t sound terrible at all.The Times is committed to publishing a diversity of letters to the editor. We’d like to hear what you think about this or any of our articles. Here are some tips. And here’s our email: letters@nytimes.com.Follow The New York Times Opinion section on Facebook, Twitter (@NYTopinion) and Instagram. More

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    After Georgia Senate Loss, Republicans Stare Down Their Trump Dilemma

    ATLANTA — The Democrats’ capstone re-election victory of Senator Raphael Warnock forced Republicans to reckon on Wednesday with the red wave that wasn’t, as they turned with trepidation to 2024 and the intensifying divisions in the party over former President Donald J. Trump.Mr. Warnock’s two-and-a-half percentage point win over Herschel Walker in the Georgia Senate runoff left Democrats with a 51-49 seat majority in the upper chamber, a one-seat gain. That came despite dire predictions for a blood bath for President Biden’s party.It quickly had Republican fingers pointing every which way: at Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader accused by detractors of abandoning or belittling embattled Republican Senate candidates; at Senator Rick Scott of Florida, the chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, who many feel badly mismanaged the Senate Republicans’ campaign arm; and at Mr. Walker himself, for hiding and lying about his past, only to see the details stream out steadily over the course of his campaign.But for a handful of Republicans, newly emboldened by re-election or retirement to say so aloud, the biggest culprit was Mr. Trump. In increasingly biting terms, they slammed him for promoting flawed candidates, including Mr. Walker, dividing his party and turning many swing voters against the G.O.P. for the third election cycle in a row.“I think he’s less relevant all the time,” Senator John Cornyn, a Republican of Texas, said of the former president, who has begun a third bid for the White House.“It’s just one more data point in an overwhelming body of data that the Trump obsession is very bad for Republicans,” said Senator Patrick J. Toomey of Pennsylvania, a retiring Republican whose seat was flipped to Democrats by Lt. Gov. John Fetterman.Trump campaign aides responded with defiance, in a back-and-forth likely to be on repeat for the foreseeable future. Steven Cheung, a senior communications adviser for the former president, said they “are not going to be lectured by political swamp creatures who are already looking to find ways to make a quick buck in 2024 by running to the media and providing cowardly quotes.”The midterm losses like Mr. Walker’s not only squashed the G.O.P.’s high hopes of retaking control of the Senate but also signaled the party’s steep climb ahead. Voters in several presidential battleground states resoundingly rejected candidates aligned with the former president, handing Republicans losses in winnable races in Arizona, Pennsylvania, Nevada, New Hampshire and, finally, Georgia.Mr. Trump’s influence was indisputable in the suburbs, said Rusty Paul, the Republican mayor of Sandy Springs, a booming suburban city on Atlanta’s northern edge.Mr. Paul allowed that the once almost-wholly affluent, almost-wholly white community had become more diverse ethnically, racially and economically, tipping it in Democrats’ favor.Herschel Walker giving his concession speech on Tuesday night.Nicole Buchanan for The New York TimesA scorecard with election results left at Mr. Walker’s election night party.Nicole Buchanan for The New York Times“All of those are factors, but the greatest factor is Trumpism,” he said.“There’s a very strong conservative streak in the northern suburbs, Cobb, North Fulton — if Trump’s not engaged, they’ll still vote Republican,” he continued, speaking of the northern edge of Atlanta’s main county and Cobb County, just to the west. “But if they feel Trump’s influence, they’ll vote against him.”Trump loyalists in Georgia and beyond disputed that assessment. Former Speaker Newt Gingrich, who represented many of those suburbs for years as a House Republican, blamed a list of factors beside Mr. Trump, down to the mockery by “Saturday Night Live” of Mr. Walker three days before the runoff election. It’s the G.O.P. versus the media, Big Tech, Hollywood and the nation’s social power structures, he said.Understand the Georgia Senate RunoffNew Battlegrounds: Senator Raphael Warnock’s win shows how Georgia and Arizona are poised to be the next kingmakers of presidential politics, Lisa Lerer writes.A Rising Democratic Star: Mr. Warnock, a son of Savannah public housing who rose to become Georgia’s first Black senator, is a pastor and politician who sees voting as a form of prayer.Trump’s Bad Day: The loss by Herschel Walker, the Republican candidate, capped one of the worst days for former President Donald J. Trump since he announced his 2024 bid.“We underestimate how big the mountain is that we’re trying to climb,” he said.But Mr. Gingrich also raised the prospects of a disastrous 2024, as Trump’s supporters split acrimoniously with its anti-Trump wing of the party the way conservatives in 1964 backed Barry Goldwater and moderates sided with Nelson Rockefeller.“My greatest fear is that we’re going to end up in a 1964 division” that left Republicans crippled in Congress, he said in an interview Wednesday. “I can imagine a Trump-anti-Trump war over the next two years that just guarantees Biden’s re-election in a landslide and guarantees that Democrats control everything.”Senator Raphael Warnock visited students at Georgia Tech on Monday.Nicole Craine for The New York TimesMr. Warnock speaking to reporters on Tuesday in Norcross, Ga.Nicole Craine for The New York TimesEmerging from the midterms, the anti-Trump wing has plenty of ammunition to make its case for a break. Two of Mr. Trump’s most prominent Republican foils in Georgia, Gov. Brian Kemp and Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, won re-election easily, in part because of their refusal to back the former president’s lie that the state had been stolen from him in 2020. Their resistance confirmed to Republican-leaning swing voters that they were not in Mr. Trump’s thrall.In contrast, Mr. Walker, who was urged to run by the former president and has already said he intends to vote for Mr. Trump for president, lost ground among almost every type of precinct in the four weeks between Election Day on Nov. 8 and runoff day on Tuesday, according to a New York Times analysis.The Republican fared worse in the runoff at precincts that initially backed Mr. Warnock and Mr. Kemp, at precincts dominated by college graduates, at urban and suburban precincts, affluent precincts and at Black precincts and Hispanic precincts. The only precincts where he held his own were in rural areas and areas with white, noncollege voters.Mr. Walker, a first-time candidate and former football star, had plenty of troubles that had nothing to do with Mr. Trump. His campaign was repeatedly hit with damaging revelations that might have knocked other candidates out of the race, including accusations of domestic violence, unacknowledged children and hypocrisy on abortion.And beyond Mr. Trump, there are other factors changing Georgia’s political hue: the in-migration of voters of color from around the country, the movement of politically active Black voters from central Atlanta to suburbs near and far, where they carried on their organizational activities, and the activation of white women like Jennifer Haggard, a real estate agent and lifelong Sandy Springer, who cast aside reflexive conservatism for a more open-minded politics.“I’m the white Republican who turned swing voter for sure,” Ms. Haggard said after voting for Mr. Warnock. She cited Mr. Trump as easily the biggest factor, but happily voted for Mr. Warnock.In the face of trends favoring Democrats, Georgia Republicans failed to nominate a Senate candidate who could galvanize both the party’s hyper-conservative base and its moderate factions — a group that many in the G.O.P. believe still makes up a majority of the state’s electorate.That failure extended beyond Georgia. Republican candidates in the primary season reached into Mr. Trump’s ideological milieu to capture his voters, moving so far that they could not credibly swing to win back the center in the general election.“Even if you capture all of the Trump voters, you may be able to win a primary but you’re not necessarily going to win a general election and in this business, you have to win an election before you can actually govern,” said Mr. Cornyn, who for years dodged questions about Mr. Trump. “It’s not like coming in second and getting a trophy like you did in junior high school for participation.”For many Trump-loyal voters, the question may come down to whether they are willing to make a cold-eyed assessment of electability or follow their hearts. The chorus of Republican voices arguing for electability is growing louder.“More strings of defeats delivered to us clearly by Donald Trump is enough for our party to realize we’ve got to move on if we want to win,” Paul D. Ryan, the former Republican Speaker of the House, said in a SiriusXM interview. “We should not just concede the country to the left by nominating an unelectable candidate like Donald Trump.”Even Mr. Walker’s team seemed to acknowledge Mr. Trump was a drag on the candidate in the final weeks of the race. As the former president teased a visit to Georgia, Trump aides worked with the Walker campaign to agree to scrap an in-person rally and instead hold the event via phone. Mr. Walker did not frequently mention Mr. Trump in his campaign speeches. And in his final concession speech, he did not say the former president’s name.Jack Kingston, a former House Republican from the Savannah area, argued that Mr. Trump’s influence was overblown. In 2021, as two Georgia Senate races headed to a runoff, Mr. Trump, then the president, was railing against a rigged election, signaling to Republicans that their vote wouldn’t count, he noted. This time around, he was far less present.“I would not say the invisible hand of Donald Trump was telling Herschel Walker what to do,” Mr. Kingston said on Wednesday. “He was his own man.”Stephanie Lai More

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    How Can Democrats Use Their Final Weeks in Power?

    This article is part of the Debatable newsletter. You can sign up here to receive it on Wednesdays.The Democratic Party’s success in securing a 51st Senate seat in the Georgia runoff Tuesday is certainly consequential, but it did nothing to avert an imminent shift in the national political environment: On Jan. 3, Republicans will take control of the House of Representatives, and it will be two years at least — if not much longer, given historical trends — before Democrats again have the power to enact major legislation.This period between an election and the transition of power is known as a lame-duck session, and in recent years, it’s often when Congress has been most productive. How will Democrats make use of this one? Here are just some of the most pressing legislative priorities on the party’s agenda that could be accomplished without fear of a Republican filibuster in the Senate, or with the possibility of enough Republican votes to block such a move.Keeping the government — and the global financial system — runningCongress is staring down a Dec. 16 deadline to pass a budget for the 2023 fiscal year. If it doesn’t, the government could be forced to shut down, as it did in 2013 and twice in 2018, depriving hundreds of thousands of government workers of pay and disrupting public services.But an even more urgent threat, German Lopez of The Times recently wrote, is that Republicans will refuse to raise the limit on how much money the government can borrow, which Congress frequently must do to fund the budget it has approved. If the government hits the debt ceiling, which could happen early next year, it could eventually lose the ability to make debt payments and be forced, for the first time, to default, with potentially calamitous effects for the global economy.Once a pro forma administrative task, raising the debt ceiling became a matter of high-stakes brinkmanship during the Obama administration, as Republicans repeatedly leveraged the threat of default to push for spending cuts and regulatory rollbacks. In October, Representative Kevin McCarthy, the minority leader hoping to become speaker, suggested that his party would deploy this strategy again to force “structural changes” to programs like Social Security and Medicare.Democrats have two options to avert financial crisis, Peter Orszag, a former director of the Office of Management and Budget and the Congressional Budget Office, explains: Win over enough Senate Republicans to form a filibuster-proof majority to raise the debt ceiling, or raise it unilaterally through the reconciliation process, which would require only 50 votes.“Any Democrats averse to taking such a painful vote now should consider how much leverage their party will lose once Republicans control the House — and how much higher the risk of default will be then,” he writes in The Washington Post.The trade-off, however, is that raising the debt ceiling with only Democratic votes would take much longer — about two weeks — than if Republicans were on board. “This might crowd out Democrats’ ability to pass almost any other legislative priority while they still control both chambers,” notes Catherine Rampell in The Washington Post.Preventing a repeat of Jan. 6Given concerns about the integrity of the 2024 presidential election, another major Democratic priority is modernizing the Electoral Count Act, a 1887 law governing the Electoral College counting procedure. The law’s ambiguous language became the legal basis for Donald Trump’s attempt to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election, culminating in the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.Reforming the law to prevent such schemes has bipartisan support: Nearly 40 senators, including 16 Republicans, have signed on to a bill introduced in the Senate over the summer, and the House passed its own bill in September.“Both the Senate and House bills are far better than what we have right now, and either one would go a long way to ensuring that the electoral-count law cannot be used as a tool for subverting the election in 2024 or beyond,” the Times editorial board wrote last month. “Congress needs to pass the overhaul now, when it has willing majorities in both houses and well before anyone casts a ballot in 2024.”Reforming the immigration systemNearly two years after President Biden proposed the most comprehensive immigration reform since the Reagan administration, Democrats have made very little headway on the issue. But this week, there were signs of a potential breakthrough when a bipartisan pair of senators reportedly drafted a framework for legislation that would create a pathway to citizenship for two million DACA recipients and improve the asylum system. In exchange, it also contains provisions for expediting the deportation of migrants who fail to qualify for asylum and continuing the use of Title 42, a Trump-era emergency public health order that restricts the right to claim asylum.Some immigration advocates have called on congressional Democrats to seize the opportunity. “House Republicans are not likely to allow any measures to improve immigration matters to reach a vote, preferring to have the political issue for the next elections rather than solutions,” said Vanessa Cárdenas, executive director of America’s Voice. “This year and the remaining weeks in this Congress present the best opportunity to enact legislation.”But obstacles to a bipartisan immigration deal are formidable. Republican senators “might decide that the G.O.P. won’t get any credit even if the effort succeeds — that credit might go to President Biden — and that it’s better to retain the permanent ‘border crisis’ as an issue,” writes Greg Sargeant of The Washington Post. On the Democratic side, he adds, “the continuation of Title 42, which has been a human rights disaster, and the beefed up removal process might make it a nonstarter among progressives in both chambers.”De-escalating the war on drugsAs overdoses soar and public opinion turns against the war on drugs, proponents of drug law reform say there may be an opening for Congress to save lives by passing bipartisan measures like the Mainstreaming Addiction Treatment Act, which would increase access to medication used to treat opioid addiction, and the Medicaid Re-Entry Act, which would reduce disruptions in medical care for people who have just been released from jail or prison.Another bill called the EQUAL Act, which would end the federal sentencing disparity between crack cocaine and powder cocaine offenses, already has more than 10 Republican co-sponsors, “so it can withstand a filibuster and seems ripe for some action this lame-duck session,” Udi Ofer, a professor at Princeton’s School of Public and International Affairs, said last month.Staying ahead of the coronavirusThe Biden administration last month asked Congress for an additional $9 billion to fund its response to the coronavirus pandemic, which is still killing more than 280 Americans per day and remains a leading cause of death in the United States.Some of the $9 billion would go toward researching long Covid and ensuring continued access to vaccines and treatments, which have fallen out of reach for more and more uninsured Americans as federal money has dried up.About $5 billion would go toward creating a program in the mold of Operation Warp Speed, to develop next-generation therapeutics and vaccines, like nasal sprays that could block more infections and universal, variant-proof coronavirus shots.Many scientists believe that nasal vaccines could be crucial to reducing Covid’s disease burden, but the United States has lagged other countries in developing one because of underinvestment. Congressional Republicans have rebuffed requests for more pandemic funding, having accused the administration of mishandling previous allocations. They have also questioned the necessity of more aid, pointing to Biden’s declaration in September that “the pandemic is over.”Democrats now find themselves in the awkward position of trying to make the case for more funding without admitting error: “While COVID-19 is no longer the disruptive force it was when the president took office,” the White House wrote in a November letter to Congress, “we face the emergence of new subvariants in the United States and around the world that have the potential to cause a surge of infections, hospitalizations, and deaths, particularly as we head into the winter months.”Protecting marriage equalityOne major legislative effort that is likely to advance is the Respect for Marriage Act, which would enshrine federal protections for same-sex and interracial marriage. The issue took on newfound importance this summer after Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas wrote that the court “should reconsider” the 2015 precedent establishing the right of gay couples to marry.Some conservatives have dismissed the bill as a response to an imaginary threat and one that endangers religious liberties; many liberals argue the bill doesn’t go far enough, since it wouldn’t prevent states from refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Nonetheless, the measure attracted enough Republican support to pass in the Senate last week and is expected to win final approval in the House.To some, the success of a bill that was considered just a few months ago to be dead on arrival suggests there might be opportunities for more congressional breakthroughs, albeit within a very limited window. “As with the same-sex marriage bill, bipartisan legislation revising the 19th century Electoral Count Act wasn’t politically possible before the midterm elections and wouldn’t be once Trumpian Republicans are in charge of the House schedule in four weeks,” writes Jackie Calmes, a columnist for The Los Angeles Times. “Enjoy these few weeks of what passes for bipartisanship as Congress waddles to its end. You won’t be seeing much of that over the next two years.”Do you have a point of view we missed? Email us at debatable@nytimes.com. Please note your name, age and location in your response, which may be included in the next newsletter.READ MORE“Can Republicans and Democrats Find a Way Forward on Immigration?” [The New York Times]“What should Democrats do in the lame-duck Congress?” [The Economist]“Same-Sex Marriage Bill Passes Senate After Bipartisan Breakthrough” [The New York Times]“Here’s how Congress can make the lame-duck session a mighty one”[The Washington Post] More

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    Warnock’s Narrow Victory Over Walker in Georgia

    More from our inbox:Trump’s Very Bad DayThe Crypto IllusionEncourage BreastfeedingFood Buying That Reflects Our Values Nicole Craine for The New York TimesTo the Editor:Re “Warnock Victory Hands Democrats 51st Seat in Senate” (front page, Dec. 7):Although I am relieved that Senator Raphael Warnock prevailed in the Georgia runoff, I am absolutely disgusted that this election was so close.We have lost our way as a country when we do not see that political leadership takes skill; knowledge of the law, the Constitution and history; the ability to negotiate and cooperate; and a worldview that is larger than your own.I would not be at all qualified to play professional football, and it was clear from the start that Herschel Walker did not have the knowledge or skill to be a U.S. senator.Dawn MenkenPortland, Ore.The writer is the author of “Facilitating a More Perfect Union: A Guide for Politicians and Leaders.”To the Editor:I have new respect for Herschel Walker: He gave a concession speech. He declared that he lost. He called on his supporters to respect their elected officials and to believe in America. He said he had no excuses for his loss because he put up a good fight. This probably reflects both who he is and his football heritage — you win but also lose games fair and square.He may have helped us back to the old pre-Trump norms. We may disagree with his views and abhor his scandals, but the most important thing is that he believes in democracy. Let’s hope Donald Trump watched that concession speech.When Mr. Walker said, “I want you to believe in America and continue to believe in the Constitution and believe in our elected officials most of all,” it could be the biggest takeaway of the election.James AdlerCambridge, Mass.To the Editor:Raphael Warnock was extremely lucky to win the Senate race in Georgia — lucky because he faced an opponent plagued by ignorance, myriad character flaws and an endorsement by Donald Trump. Almost certainly, a moderate Republican, Black or white, could have defeated Mr. Warnock, perhaps by a margin as large as the seven-plus percentage points that Brian Kemp scored over Stacey Abrams for the Georgia governorship just four weeks earlier.I am very happy about Mr. Warnock’s win, but it should not be interpreted as signaling a major shift in the political landscape of Georgia.Peter S. AllenProvidence, R.I.To the Editor:Every time the Republicans lose an election — most recently Tuesday in Georgia — the Times coverage predicts that the party will engage in “soul-searching,” suggesting that the G.O.P. has a desire to change course. Yet, again and again, the party persists in its pandering to far-right, anti-democratic forces of white nationalism and heteropatriarchy.The G.O.P. has made its soul abundantly clear. Perhaps some Republican voters have done their own soul-searching and decided to reject what their party has become.Pamela J. GriffithBrooklynTo the Editor:As a liberal Democrat I am very pleased with the results of the Georgia runoff and most of the rest of the 2022 U.S. Senate results in competitive races. How do we make sure that Donald Trump continues to influence the choice of Republican candidates for Senate in 2024?Michael G. RaitenBoynton Beach, Fla.Trump’s Very Bad Day Jamie Kelter Davis for The New York TimesTo the Editor:Tuesday was a Trumpian negative hat trick: a defeat in the Senate runoff in Georgia, the conviction of the Trump Organization on tax fraud and other crimes, and a report of grand jury subpoenas from the special counsel to local officials in Arizona, Michigan and Wisconsin.Of course the Republican Party has neglected to take any prior offramps to dump Donald Trump, most notably Jan. 6, so unfortunately the latest Trump failures will probably go by the wayside too. And the G.O.P. of yore — the party of Lincoln, T.R. and Ike — will continue to be the clown car it has become.Bill MutterperlBeverly Hills, Calif.The Crypto IllusionFederal authorities are trying to determine whether criminal charges should be filed against the founder of the crypto firm FTX, Sam Bankman-Fried, and others over the company’s collapse.Winnie Au for The New York TimesTo the Editor:Re “‘It Just Angers Me.’ Crypto Crisis Drains Small Investors’ Savings” (front page, Dec. 6):Is it too early, or far too late, to suggest that “if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is” in relation to the FTX and BlockFi difficulties? Should this concern be extended to Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies in general?There was a time when people earned the coins in their wallets from the sweat on their brow rather than from a computer program most people can’t understand that creates imaginary coins to be stored in wallets that seem easy to rob or lose. It is, however, sad to read of people who have lost so much in such a short time.As a teacher, I wasn’t that well paid, and so I saved as much as I could to buy a house and set myself up for retirement by sensible, boring approaches. But the gains to be made from Bitcoin are in its questionable uses or in realizing the increase in its value before it drops. For me it seems to have no actual value or use, and I doubt that I am the only one who thinks that.It’s time for me to forget the world of imaginary computer profits and go back to a boring life on my unicorn farm.Dennis FitzgeraldMelbourne, AustraliaEncourage Breastfeeding Vanessa Leroy for The New York TimesTo the Editor:Re “What It Really Takes to Breastfeed a Baby” (news article, Dec. 6):As a pediatrician who spends many hours with new mothers and their babies discussing the challenges and difficulties that come with breastfeeding, I felt that this article was not as positive as it should have been. It focused on following mothers who were having a hard time keeping up their breastfeeding.These days, any literature or news related to breastfeeding should only be encouraging new mothers to breastfeed, not scaring them away from doing it and making it sound so hard while working and raising other children.In my practice, I share my own personal experiences of breastfeeding my three children, each for a year, while working in a busy pediatrics office. My stories are useful and effective in making the breastfeeding experience achievable to the new moms I meet.We need to reverse the steady decline of breastfeeding mothers in this country.Naomi JackmanPort Washington, N.Y.Food Buying That Reflects Our Values Pavel PopovTo the Editor:Re “Help Black Farmers This Holiday Season,” by Tressie McMillan Cottom (column, Nov. 30):New York State’s food procurement laws are an extension of the disenfranchisement of Black farmers. Provisions require that municipalities contract with farmers who sell their produce at the “lowest” cost. This often comes at the expense of small, hyperlocal farmers and bars them from entering negotiations for public contracts — meaning that opportunities to support historically marginalized food producers are currently limited in New York.The Good Food New York bill would democratize local food purchasing decisions by allowing municipalities to galvanize around racial equity, animal welfare, environmental sustainability, nutrition, local economies and workers’ rights — and contract with producers that uphold these values.It is more critical than ever to rectify the wrongs of this country’s past and prepare for a future where the strength of our food systems and supply chains will be tested by the consequences of climate change. New York State legislators, we are counting on you to make the right decision for our food futures.Ribka GetachewTaylor PateNew YorkThe writers are, respectively, director and campaign manager of the NY Good Food Purchasing Program Campaign for Community Food Advocates. More

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    Walker, Trump’s Celebrity Pick, Underscores Trump’s Fall

    Donald Trump loved Herschel Walker.He told him so when he “fired” him from “Celebrity Apprentice.” As Trump put it: “You know how much I like you. I love you. I love you. I am not a gay man, and I love you, Herschel. Herschel, you’re fired.”As Walker said in an interview years ago, “I’ve known Donald before he became the Donald. I started out with Donald Trump. I tell everyone that little Donald and little Ivanka lived with me during the summer.” He took them to Disney World, Sea World, the Bronx Zoo, “any place.”Walker’s son Christian referred to Trump as Uncle Don.The men were clearly close. Trump believed in Black exceptionalism — but only for athletes and entertainers.When New York’s elite shunned Trump, he found a home in pop culture. He came to understand the currency in it and the power of it. Unlike high society, which thrived on exclusion, entertainment fed on the possibility of inclusion and economic ascendance.Trump learned early the lucrative industry of dream selling. He learned early the power of celebrity as the embodiment of those dreams.To him, celebrities were a class unto themselves, people who could transcend race and wealth, crossing over into the golden plane of the hero. You can admire a Black celebrity, cheer for him, be thoroughly entertained by him and never relinquish your animus for or prejudices against other Black people.As long as those entertainers avoided any mention or invocation of race — other than to discuss their upbringing or praise a parent — even people hostile to Black people could be fans of theirs.This is why Trump could argue that he was not racist — he could always say he had known and been friendly with so many Black entertainers. But he was friendly with them even as he was hostile to other Black and Brown people. Walker has said his warm relationship with Trump dates back to 1982, but it was only a few years later, in 1989, that Trump took out full-page newspaper ads calling for the reinstatement of the death penalty in New York, so that the Central Park Five, who were just boys at the time, would “be afraid.”The boys implicated in the attack have since been exonerated, but Trump has refused to apologize for his ad.Trump, like many people, is able to compartmentalize on the issue of race, segregating the masses whom he abhorred from the few he idolized.And so, when there was a need for a Republican to run for the Senate seat in Georgia against Raphael Warnock — a man who, with the support of Black voters as well as others, shocked the political establishment in that state when he won his first Senate race nearly two years ago — Trump did a simplistic racial calculation: he knew a conservative Black acolyte who could run against the liberal Black intellectual.He called on his old friend Walker. It didn’t matter that Walker was not a political figure or even a politically engaged person. It didn’t matter that he was wholly unsuited for any form of public office. It didn’t even matter that he didn’t live in Georgia.Trump drafted him, and he agreed. Celebrity, Trump thought, would cover all flaws.In the end, it did not. Trump’s brand, his celebrity worship and promulgation, was not enough to push Walker over the edge. But while Walker failed, Trump failed even worse. Unlike some races this cycle in which Trump simply endorsed a candidate, Walker was one Trump personally chose.And even before Tuesday night, Georgia had rejected Trumpism, choosing some Republicans in November who had defied Trump’s pressure campaign to steal the 2020 election and incurred his wrath because of it.Yes, Walker was a historically horrific candidate, but the Trump brand has also begun to sour in Georgia. This is in no way to excuse the Georgia Republicans who went along with the Walker charade, even after seeing up close that he was not only unqualified to be a senator, but likely incapable of performing the duties. They saw up close his incompetence, intellectual deficiencies and glaring defects, but they still hewed more to their partisanship than to their principles.They twisted themselves into knots to excuse Walker, using a roundabout racism to do so. Some said that what we saw as a lack of intelligence was in fact a regional affectation: Walker speaks the way many Black people in Georgia speak.In their construction of things, deficiency was endemic to Blackness and ubiquitous among Black people. The best that could be hoped for was a Black person who was willing to fall in line and vote with the party. Walker had proven that he would do that. He would be a willing puppet for their ventriloquism.And he came dangerously close to winning.This will remain a stain on the Republican Party. But Walker didn’t win. Cynicism didn’t win. Trump didn’t win.Competence and common sense prevailed.The Times is committed to publishing a diversity of letters to the editor. We’d like to hear what you think about this or any of our articles. Here are some tips. And here’s our email: letters@nytimes.com.Follow The New York Times Opinion section on Facebook and Twitter (@NYTopinion), and Instagram. More

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    Warnock’s Victory Forges Democrats’ Path Through the New Battlegrounds

    Forget about Florida and Ohio: Georgia and Arizona are poised to be the next kingmakers of presidential politics.Follow our latest updates on the Georgia Senate runoff.For decades, Florida and Ohio reigned supreme over presidential politics. The two states relished their role crowning presidents and spawning political clichés. Industrial Cleveland faced off against white-collar Cincinnati, the Midwestern snowbirds of the Villages against the Puerto Rican diaspora of the Orlando suburbs.But the Georgia runoff, the final note of the 2022 midterm elections, may have said goodbye to all that. The Marietta moms are in charge now.Senator Raphael Warnock’s win over Herschel Walker — his fifth victory in just over two years — proved that the Democratic surge in the Peach State two years ago was no Trump-era fluke, no one-off rebuke of an unpopular president. Georgia, with its storied civil rights history, booming Atlanta suburbs like Marietta and exploding ethnic diversity, is now officially contested ground, joining a narrow set of states that will select the next president.Mr. Warnock’s race was the final marker for a 2024 presidential road map that political strategists, officials and politicians in both parties say will run largely through six states: Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.The shrunken, shifted battlefield reflects a diversifying country remade by the polarizing politics of the Trump era. As white, working-class voters defected from Democrats, persuaded by Donald J. Trump’s populist cultural appeals and anti-elitist rhetoric, demographic changes opened up new presidential battlegrounds in the West and South.That is not good for Mr. Trump, who lost all six of those states to President Biden two years ago, as he begins to plot his third presidential bid. Other Republicans have found more success pulling together winning coalitions in states defined by their growth, new transplants, strong economies and a young and diverse population. But if the party wants to reclaim the White House in 2024, Republicans will have to improve their performance across the new terrain.“You’re going to have your soccer moms and Peloton dads. Those college-educated voters, specifically in the suburbs, are ones that Republicans have to learn how to win,” said Kristin Davison, a Republican strategist who worked on Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s win in Virginia, a once-red state that, until Mr. Youngkin’s victory, had turned a more suburban shade of blue. “It’s these growing, diverse communities combined with the college-educated voters.”“I secured my vote!” stickers at a polling place in Georgia.Nicole Buchanan for The New York TimesVoters at Morningside Presbyterian Church in Fulton County on Tuesday morning.Nicole Buchanan for The New York TimesIn most of the six states, midterm elections brought out deep shades of purple. In Arizona, Democrats won the governor’s mansion for the first time since 2006, but a race for attorney general remains too close to call. In Nevada, the party’s candidate won re-election to the Senate by less than one percentage point, while Republicans won the governor’s office. The reverse happened in Wisconsin.Mr. Warnock narrowly defeated Mr. Walker on Tuesday. But Gov. Brian Kemp, a Republican, handily toppled Stacey Abrams, a Democratic star, in his re-election bid last month.Only Pennsylvania and Michigan had clean Democratic sweeps in statewide offices.Republicans, meanwhile, swept Florida, with Gov. Ron DeSantis winning re-election in the state by easily the largest margin by a Republican candidate for governor in modern history. In Ohio, Representative Tim Ryan, widely considered to be one the Democratic Party’s strongest candidates, lost his bid for Senate by six percentage points.That new map isn’t entirely new, of course. Since 2008, Democrats have hoped that demographic changes and millions of dollars could help put the growing pockets of the South and West in play, allowing the party to stop chasing the votes of white, working-class voters across Ohio and Iowa.But the party has made inroads before, only to backslide later. When Barack Obama carried North Carolina in 2008, pundits and party officials heralded the arrival of the Democratic revival in the New South. President Obama lost the state four years later and Mr. Biden was defeated there by a little more than a percentage point.Democrats argue their victories in Georgia will be more resilient. Mr. Warnock’s coalition looked very similar to Mr. Biden’s — an alliance of voters of color, younger voters and college-educated suburbanites.For Republicans, the winning formula requires maintaining their sizable advantage among rural voters and working-class, white voters, without fully embracing the far-right stances and combative politics of Mr. Trump that could hurt their standing with more moderate swing voters. Mr. Kemp followed that path to an eight-percentage-point victory.But Mr. Walker was in no position to expand his voting base. He was recruited to run by Mr. Trump, despite allegations of domestic abuse, no political experience and few clear policy positions, and spent much of his campaign focused on his party’s most reliable voters.While votes were still being counted late Tuesday, Mr. Warnock appeared to improve on Mr. Biden’s margins in the suburban counties around Atlanta, including Gwinnett, Newton and Cobb County, home to Marietta.Herschel Walker and his team after a campaign stop in Dawsonville, Ga.Dustin Chambers for The New York TimesGreeting supporters at a Dawsonville restaurant.Dustin Chambers for The New York TimesDemocrats recognized the rising influence of the Sun Belt in a high-profile way last week, when the Democratic National Committee advanced a plan to replace Iowa, a former battleground state that has grown more Republican recently, with South Carolina and add Nevada, Georgia and Michigan to the early-state calendar.“The Sun Belt delivered the Senate Democratic majority,” said Senator Jacky Rosen, a Democrat from Nevada who will face her first re-election campaign in 2024. “The party needs to invest in us and that’s what they’ve done by changing the calendar.”Already, investment in these new battlegrounds has been eye-popping. In Georgia, $1.4 billion has been spent by both parties on three Senate races and the one contest for governor since the beginning of 2020, according to a New York Times analysis.The flood of political activity has surprised even some of those who have long predicted that their states would grow more competitive.“We all thought Arizona would probably be a battleground state at some point like a decade or so down the road,” said Mike Noble, the chief of research with the polling firm OH Predictive Insights, which is based in Phoenix. “It’s mind-blowing that it came so quickly to be quite honest.”Political operatives in Ohio and Florida insist that their states could remain competitive if Democrats would invest in organizers and ads. But for presidential campaigns, the goal isn’t to flip states but to identify the easiest route to 270 electoral votes.David Pepper, a former chairman of the Ohio Democratic Party, acknowledged that the changed politics had created a national political dynamic that’s bad for Ohio but better for his party. “The fact that Ohio is less essential than it used to be is a good thing because it means there are other states that are now winnable that weren’t 10 years ago. Colorado and Virginia were Republican so you had to win Florida and Ohio,” he said, evoking the predecessor to the cable news interactive maps. “That’s why Tim Russert had them all over his white board.”Senator Raphael Warnock with the rapper Killer Mike at a campaign event on Monday.Nicole Craine for The New York TimesThe Warnock campaign visited Georgia Tech on Monday.Nicole Craine for The New York TimesThe country wasn’t always so dependent on such a small group of deciders. In the 1980s, presidential candidates competed across an average of 29 states. That number fell to 19 during the 2000s, according to data compiled by FairVote, a nonpartisan advocacy group that works on election practices. In 2020, there were just eight states where the margin of victory for either Mr. Biden or Mr. Trump was under 5 percent.The shrinking map leaves one clear loser: The bulk of American voters. About 50 million Americans live in the six states poised to get most of the attention, giving about 15 percent of the country’s nearly 332 million people an outsize role in determining the next president.For nearly 11 million Georgians, the political attention showered on their state during the midterm elections won’t be gone for long. More