By all accounts, Georgia’s Senate runoff election between Republican Herschel Walker and Democrat Raphael Warnock is going to be just as close as the last several held in the state, with victory likely coming down to less than 1 percent of the vote.
Early signs, however, appear to indicate the gaffe-prone Walker’s hopes for the Senate could be in trouble with just eight days left until Election Day on December 6.
According to early voting totals posted by Georgia’s secretary of state’s office over the weekend, turnout is surging in Democratic strongholds while Republican-leaning districts have seen relatively low early voting numbers. Throughout recent elections, Democrats have typically been more prone to use early voting than Republicans, as GOP leaders have urged voters to hold off casting their votes until Election Day, citing election security concerns.
Turnout has been highest in Democratic districts centered around Atlanta, an independent analysis by Georgia Votes shows, with some districts seeing as much as one-fifth of the electorate already casting ballots.
Though Democrats have tended to see higher early voting numbers than Republicans since the COVID-19 pandemic, the disparity is great enough that some observers have suggested Walker could face an uphill battle come Election Day—particularly with more polished Republican candidates like Governor Brian Kemp now absent from the ballot.
Where Walker finished nearly 1 point behind Warnock during this year’s midterm election to force a runoff, Kemp—a self-styled moderate who has spoken out against former President Donald Trump for his efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election results in the state—easily defeated Democratic challenger Stacey Abrams by near-double digits, casting doubt on Walker’s appeal with independent voters in a year they were supposed to be trending toward conservatives.
“Of course the GOP voters will come out on e-day,” Josh Chafetz, a Georgetown University Law Center professor, tweeted in a thread dissecting the Monday numbers. “I’d still rather be the candidate banking early votes than the one trying to turn everyone out in one day.”
“Usually” meaning 2020 and after, yes.
And of course the GOP voters will come out on e-day. I’d still rather be the candidate banking early votes than the one trying to turn everyone out in one day.
— Josh Chafetz (@joshchafetz) November 28, 2022
Polling, while sparse, has been less than encouraging for Walker, particularly after a series of polls from conservative-leaning groups like Trafalgar showed the Republican candidate leading Warnock entering the general election amid a mountain of missed calls in this year’s “Red Ripple” election.
The first poll of the election, commissioned by AARP, showed Warnock leading Walker by 4 points entering the runoff, though Walker maintained a near-double digit lead among the senior-aged voters who traditionally make up about two-thirds of the runoff electorate.
And while the Massachusetts-based Phillips Academy Poll—a group of elite high school students who correctly predicted the winner of every Senate race it weighed in on this cycle—predicted a narrow 1-point win for Walker in survey results released on Monday. However, those numbers come with a sizable rider, with the pollster significantly overestimating Republican results in Arizona, which ranks alongside Georgia as one of the nation’s most competitive states.
Newsweek has reached out to Walker’s campaign for comment.
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