Since Democratic incumbent Raphael Warnock nor Republican challenger Herschel Walker got more than 50 percent of the vote in the Nov. 8 election, there is a state law that mandates a runoff election which is taking place today, Tuesday (Dec. 6).
Although the Democrats retained control of the Senate with the necessary 50 seats they needed (with a tie-breaking vote from Vice President Kamala Harris), it is still essential for them to have the Georgia seat because 51 seats would give complete control.
Warnock is claiming momentum going into the runoff, but his lead in polling averages around 50. 2 percent to Walker's 48.2 percent, still giving the challenger a chance to win. However, there are things working in Warnock’s favor.
Much of Georgia is facing a wet, dreary December day, which could discourage some from standing in long lines at the polls. But two million people have voted early, which has traditionally favored Democrats in elections. Heavily democratic counties like Fulton, Clayton, and DeKalb are also expected to bring a high number of votes for Warnock.
Still, there is a caveat: early voting set records in the Georgia gubernatorial election between Gov. Brian Kemp and Stacey Abrams, but in this second attempt to capture the office, Abrams was unsuccessful. She lost to the incumbent 53.4 percent to 45.9 percent despite mobilizing the Democratic base in the state. So, winning is not guaranteed for Warnock, and Walker has the support of Kemp and much of the rest of the state's GOP leadership.
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Although both Warnock and Walker are African American, the race is still a factor in the election. Black voters numbered more in the early voting count, according to Atlanta station WXIA. Furthermore, new voters of color who didn't vote in the general election could lean heavily toward Warnock.
"If I was a campaign manager, I'd rather be on the side of the Warnock camp than the Walker camp," Bernard L. Fraga, a political science professor at Emory University told the station. "Walker has a lot of ground to make up based on the early vote data that is in so far. If we assume that not a lot of voters are changing their mind, he's dependent on very high Election Day turnout."
Meanwhile, there has been controversial things surrounding Walker due to his family life and a series of abortions that at least two women have claimed Walker coerced them into. Despite this, he has held tightly to conservative views, even saying that he supports a total ban on abortions, even in the case of rape or incest.
In campaign speeches, Walker at times seemed incoherent and even confused about whether he was running for the House or Senate. “They’re not [less motivated] because they know right now that the House will be even so they don’t want to understand what is happening right now.” Walker said about Republican voters. “You get the House, you get the committees. You get all the committees even, they just stall things within there. So if we keep a check on Joe Biden, we just going to keep a check on him.”
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If he prevails, Warnock, a pastor and senior minister of Atlanta's Ebenezer Baptist Church, where Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. once preached, will be the first Black person from Georgia to win a full six-year term in the Senate. A victory for him would cement democratic leadership in the body when they have lost control of the House and will be needed to bolster President Joe Biden through the end of his term and possibly a second run for the White House.
“They are predicting rain on Tuesday, but we need to make sure that there’s a different kind of rain that’s falling,” Warnock said at a campaign stop, according to The New York Times. “We need to make sure there’s a different kind of flood come Tuesday.”