Democrats have figured out the blueprint to win Georgia. The state has previously been a red state where every statewide race went to the GOP, but as of Tuesday, Sen. Raphael Warnock, D-Ga., won roughly 51.4% of the vote edging out his opponent Herschel Walker.
Warnock improved his margins in the state's runoff. According to Politico, he picked up substantial Black voters in Atlanta and took advantage of early and mail voting.
More than 320,000 votes for Warnock were from mail and early voting, Politico reported. The runoff highlights the partisan divide over methods of voting.
Since 2020, Republicans have been skeptical of early and absentee voting methods — although Republican leaders may be rethinking it.
Democrats dominated on those two types of voting, especially during this runoff. Warnock won more than 58% of those who cast their ballots early or by mail. Black voters accounted for 31.8% of those who voted ahead of Election Day.
There was significantly less early voting than in the January 2021 runoffs, when the early voting period was longer, and the overall turnout was larger. Last year it topped off at 4.4 million compared to 3.5 million this year.
These two methods of voting allowed Warnock to build a 320,000-vote lead. Walker won the Election Day vote by 225,000 votes, but it wasn't enough to put him over the top.
According to Politico, Walker improved in 26 of the state's 159 counties. The counties where he improved were primarily small and rural, which accounted for 5% of the total votes.
GOP Gov. Brian Kemp won by a margin greater than 7 points, which likely helped Walker in November.
"Without a candidate like Brian Kemp, who was so popular and so good at campaigning and getting people to the polls, it's easy to see how Rev. Warnock would have made that 50% plus one needed to avoid a runoff," said Jermaine House, a spokesperson with the progressive research firm HIT Strategies.
Despite Democrats outspending the GOP 2-to-1 in the final weeks before the runoff, Walker came within a few percentage points of victory. He couldn't make substantial gains post-Election Day, where he fell short.
Statewide turnout in the runoff was about 89% of what it was in November, with more than 3.5 million voters casting ballots. Turnout doesn't necessarily benefit one candidate or the other. Walker trailed slightly in the November election, needing higher turnout in GOP-friendly counties, but that did not materialize.
Walker's home turf in east central Georgia, Johnson County, was the only county where more ballots were cast in December than in November, while Warnock increased his vote share slightly.
Warnock took advantage of metro Atlanta, which saw a relatively high turnout. DeKalb County saw a higher turnout than the state average. It was slightly lower in Clayton and Fulton counties, with Warnock improving his margin slightly in both, offsetting turnout losses.
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