There is only one day until the Georgia Senate runoff election, pitting Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock against his Republican challenger Herschel Walker. Here is the latest heading into this important election that will have implications on both a state and national level.
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Although the Democrats hold the tie-breaking vote with Vice President Kamala Harris in office, a win in Georgia would solidify the majority. A Warnock victory would also give the party leverage when negotiating with colleagues who often tend to side with the Republicans, including moderate Democrat Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia.
About the Candidates
Warnock is no stranger to runoff elections. His 2020 campaign against appointed Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler also ended in a runoff election in January 2021. Warnock’s victory, combined with a runoff win by Democratic Georgia Sen. Jon Ossoff, gave the party control of the Senate heading into the start of President Joe Biden’s term.
GOP candidate Walker won his party’s nomination earlier in the year. The football star was buoyed by the endorsement of former President Donald Trump. However, Trump did not campaign for Walker during the runoff election stage as party leaders were fearful that his presence could drive away suburban women and independents, voting groups less likely to support the former president.
When the final votes were tallied from the November general election, Warnock finished with 49.4% of the vote with Walker slightly behind at 48.5%. Third party libertarian candidate Chase Oliver garnered 2.1% of the vote.
It was a busy day Sunday for both candidates heading into the homestretch of the campaign. Warnock held events in Gainesville, East Athens, and Athens. Meanwhile, Walker spoke at a rally in Loganville along with Republican Sens. Tim Scott and John Kennedy.
Record Early Voting Turnout
There is no doubt that interest is high in this runoff election. According to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, over 1.85 million residents voted during the early election period last week. This number includes in-person voting as well as absentee and military turnout.
Over 350,000 people voted on Friday in person, the last day of early voting in the state. That number represents the largest early voting day in the history of Georgia. Raffensperger also confirmed that the turnout translates to 26.4% of active voters in the state.
Warnock Holds Slight Edge in Latest Poll
A new poll released late last week by CNN indicates that Warnock has a small lead over Walker. The poll results show Warnock with 52% of the support of likely voters. Walker has 48% of the support, putting the results barely within the margin of error.
Not surprisingly, the polling results fall along partisan lines. For example, 99% of Democrats said that they support Warnock with 95% of Republicans supporting Walker. The independent vote is breaking in Warnock’s favor at a rate of 61% to 36%. However, this segment only makes up about 17% of likely voters.
The polling also demonstrates that Walker is dealing with persistent questions about his integrity and honesty. Almost half of the likely voters throwing their support behind Walker say that their vote is based more on their disapproval of Warnock rather than their positive views toward Walker. The poll also indicates that Warnock enjoys the support of a more loyal base of supporters.
When Will the Results be Finalized?
Registered voters can vote at their assigned precinct on Election Day. Polling locations are scheduled to be open from 7 am to 7 pm.
Do not get your hopes for a fast release of voting results. According to Georgia secretary of state chief operating official Gabe Sterling, it is likely that the results will not be conclusive enough by Tuesday night to declare a winner. With a high turnout expected for Election Day, it could take days to tabulate the results. Sterling said that both parties are seeing high levels of enthusiasm and turnout.
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