What we know about Georgia voters ahead of Senate runoff


For the past two years, the eyes of the political world have again turned to Georgia.

And for the second time in two years, voters in this key state will choose their senator in a runoff election that will this time determine whether Democrats win their 50-50 majority.

Preliminary data show that voters are not tired of their civic duty.

In Tuesday’s Senate runoff between Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock and Republican challenger Herschel Walker, nearly 1.5 million Georgians have voted early in about a week. So far, black voters have made up nearly a third of early voters, while more than a quarter of voters so far are under the age of 50.

About 300,000 Georgians voted early each day this week, setting records for the largest single-day early voting turnout in state history. Preliminary voting for the second tournament ended on Friday.

Georgians had just five days of mandatory early voting this year, compared to three weeks in the last runoff and last month’s general election. All but 22 counties chose not to allow early voting last Saturday and Sunday as well.

Overall, the 2022 midterm voter turnout was slightly higher than the 2018 midterm voter turnout, but less than 21% lower than the 2020 general election.

Although midterm voters tend to be older and whiter, data from the Georgia Secretary of State’s office show that midterm voters in Georgia in 2022 were older and whiter than in the previous four elections, including the 2018 midterms. These voters tend to lean Republican. The fact that Warnock not only forced a runoff but narrowly edged Walker in the first round of voting last month shows that he had the support of independents and some Republican voters, political scientists told CNN.

“The key for Warnock was that according to the polls, he won the independent vote by quite a large margin,” said Alan Abramowitz, a political scientist at Emory University in Atlanta. “And that was enough to get him out. I think he’s going to have to do that in the second round.

CNN polls of voters in Georgia in the November elections show that the proportion of independent voters decreased by 4 percentage points compared to 2020. However, independent voters made up 24% of the electorate, which Warnock won by 11 points, according to CNN polls.

Compared to Georgia’s previous three midterm elections and runoffs, 2022 saw a slightly higher share of white voters and a smaller share of black, Asian, and Latino voters. Black voter turnout was the lowest in any Georgia election since the 2018 midterms.

A 2021 CNN poll showed Warnock winning 93% of black voters in Georgia’s most recent runoff election, up 6 points from the November 2020 general election.

The share of black voters in Georgia’s electorate increased in the 2021 runoff when Warnock faced Sen. Kelly Loeffler, as neither received a majority in the 2020 general election. In this runoff, black voters made up 28% of Georgia’s electorate, slightly more than their share in the 2020 general election. Black voter turnout was at its highest when Democrat Stacey Abrams first ran against incumbents. Brian Kemp, Republican, for governor in 2018.

The 2022 midterm voters were also older. Georgians over 50 represented 59% of voters this year, a new record since 2018. On the other hand, the proportion of voters under 30 years of age decreased to 11%, which is the lowest point since 2018.

The polls show that Warnock this year managed to maintain the improvements he made in the 2021 run-off election, attracting younger voters and urban areas. He won 68% of the 18:24 vote in the 2021 runoff, 16 points more than Democrats in the 2020 general election. He also won 67% of urban voters in the 2021 runoff, up 4 points from the Democratic share in 2020. In last month’s general election, Warnock won 69% of 18-24 year olds and 68% of urban voters.

Last month’s election was unusual in that more than 17,000 Georgians skipped the top Senate race and voted for governor.

“We’re not absolutely sure, but it’s very likely that those voters are probably Republicans,” said Amy Steigerwalt, a political science professor at Georgia State University.

There were also Kemp voters this year who crossed the aisle to vote for Warnock and then voted for the rest of the Republican ticket, Steigerwalt said. Kemp received 2.1 million votes, about 200,000 more than Walker.

The big question in this runoff is how Walker fares when he’s running on his own with no chance for Republicans to regain control of the Senate, Abramovich told CNN.


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