With the majority, Republicans wouldn’t have to rely on Joe Manchin. The West Virginia Democrat swore he would vote against removing the filibuster and court-packing if Democrats won both Georgia races and the Senate became evenly divided. If he kept his word, he would deprive Vice President Kamala Harris of the opportunity to cast a tiebreaking vote on these matters. But conservatives are rightly wary of trusting someone who voted to convict President Trump and voted to reject Amy Coney Barrett. (On the other hand, a 50–50 Senate could empower Republican moderates like the newly reelected Susan Collins of Maine.)

Winning both Peach State races would also provide a hedge against a difficult Senate map in 2022. Whatever advantage Republicans might gain from the typical midterm penalty incurred by the president’s party will be blunted in an election in which they will have to defend 22 seats to the Democrats’ 12, including ones in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Florida, North Carolina, and, if Senator Loeffler wins, Georgia. Though the GOP may have some pickup opportunities, getting to 52 seats in January would offer it some protection against a tilted playing field.

Despite President Trump’s loss, Republicans had a much better election night than most pundits predicted. They shrank Democrats’ majority in the House and put themselves in good position to hold the Senate. Not least, they retained control of every state legislative chamber in which they held the majority entering the election. Hence, they are poised to dominate the process of redrawing congressional and state legislative districts that occurs every ten years after the Census. As a result, the GOP could dominate Congress and state legislatures for the rest of the decade. Winning both runoffs would allow it to secure these gains.