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GA Senate Runoff Is Today: Early Voting Shatters Previous Records in Warnock-Walker Battle

This combination of photos shows, Sen. Raphael Warnock, D-Ga., speaking to reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington, Aug. 3, 2021, left, and Republican Senate candidate Herschel Walker speaking in Perry, Ga., Sept. 25, 2021. (AP Photos)

Early voting has already broken records in Georgia's runoff election for the U.S. Senate.

On the last day of the campaign, incumbent Democrat Sen. Raphael Warnock and Republican challenger Herschel Walker were trying to drive more voters to the polls. 

In the general election held on Nov. 8, supporters of both candidates were motivated by the party battle to win control of the U.S. Senate, but many have been persuaded to vote a second time around even when Senate control doesn't hang in the balance.

On the last day of early voting Friday, nearly 353,000 people cast their ballots. The total number who voted early, whether in-person or by absentee ballot, is more than 1.8 million.

Both of those numbers have already broken records set in previous runoff elections.

Warnock and Walker have worked hard to motivate voters despite a predetermined balance of power in Washington. Democrats already have 50 Senate seats after the 2022 election, which means they still control the body with the tie-breaking vote of Vice President Kamala Harris.

Fifty-four percent of Georgia midterm voters said they considered party control of the Senate to be the primary factor in their vote in the general election. But that's no longer at stake.

Democrats flipped a Republican-held Senate seat in Pennsylvania to maintain their thin advantage in the chamber without relying on the outcome in Georgia.

It's a challenge for Walker in particular, whose supporters were slightly more likely than Warnock's to say control of the Senate was their chief consideration, 57% vs. 52%. A Walker victory in the Senate would keep the 50-50 status quo, but a Warnock win would give Democrats 51 seats.

The final stretch of the campaign featured harsh insults from each candidate on his competitor's character and integrity.

A wide-ranging VoteCast survey of more than 3,200 midterm voters in the state provides a detailed look at the Warnock and Walker coalitions and the attitudes that defined their choices this year. The data reveals advantages — and disadvantages — for both candidates in the runoff.

Fifty-six percent of Georgia voters said the incumbent senator "has the right experience to serve effectively" in the job, compared with just 39% saying that of Walker, a 60-year-old political novice.

"I think Herschel Walker is incompetent and Raphael Warnock has more experience, and I think he'll get the job done," said Lolita Baylor, an executive assistant at JCPenney who lives in Morrow. She voted for Warnock.

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While 7 in 10 voters who voted to reelect Republican Gov. Brian Kemp said they enthusiastically backed the governor, only about half of Walker's voters said they were enthusiastically supporting Walker. Among Walker supporters, about 4 in 10 said they backed him with reservations and about 1 in 10 said they were simply opposing the other candidates.

"I've got some reservations, I'm not 100% Walker, but he is a h*** of lot better than what we've got up there now with Warnock in there," said Donny Richardson, a retired Marine who voted for Walker last week in Marietta. "Things need to change."

About three-quarters of Republican voters said their vote was in opposition to President Joe Biden. Walker has stressed Warnock's ties to the president throughout the campaign.

"Let's just say he's much better than the Biden guy, Warnock, has been. 'Yes sir, Mr. Biden,'" said Jim Howle, a retired voter for Walker. He says Warnock's "not representing the people."

Abortion is a dominant issue in the campaign. Walker, who backs a national ban on abortion, denies allegations by two former girlfriends that he once encouraged and paid for their abortions. Warnock calls for a federal statute affirming the right to abortion and has sidestepped questions about whether he'd support any limits on abortion access. 

As CBN News reported, neither candidate reached the general election majority required under Georgia state law, forcing a runoff on Tuesday, Dec. 6.  

The Democrats are hoping to widen their majority in the Senate, while a Republican win could weaken the Democrat agenda. The Republicans won the House majority in the general election and will take control of that body in January.  

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