5 Key Factors That Will Decide the Georgia Senate Runoff

Georgians on Tuesday will decide whether Senator Raphael Warnock, the Democratic incumbent, or Herschel Walker, the retired football star nominated by Republicans, will represent them in the Senate next year.

The coda to the midterm elections comes after an intense, monthlong runoff contest in which Democrats spent nearly twice as much the G.O.P.

But money will only get you so far in politics. Here are five key factors that will help decide the winner:

The early vote has clearly favored Mr. Warnock. Georgia does not track the party affiliation of early voters, but Black voters, who exit polls showed overwhelmingly favored Mr. Warnock on Nov. 8, are about a third of the early-vote total in the runoff, according to the secretary of state’s office, a greater share than in past Georgia runoff elections. Women, who also sided with Mr. Warnock last month, have cast about 56 percent of the ballots. And Gen Z voters — 18- to 24-year-olds, who break liberal — have come on strong.

Democratic modelers believe that Mr. Warnock goes into Election Day with about an eight-percentage-point lead. If so, they say, Republicans would have to turn out in force and capture about 60 percent of the votes cast on Tuesday for Mr. Walker to pull out a victory.

More bad news for Mr. Walker: The forecast is for rain on Tuesday, especially in heavily Republican North Georgia.

A highly motivated electorate would not let a cold, muddy day keep them from the polls, but Georgians are showing signs of fatigue. There was the brutal primary season in the spring that pitted Donald J. Trump’s wing of the Republican Party against Georgia Republicans who stood by their governor, Brian Kemp, in the face of Mr. Trump’s aspersions. Autumn brought a hard-fought general election for governor and for the Senate, and now a runoff has saturated the airwaves with attack ads.

A heavy December rain could make voting on Tuesday feel even more like a slog.

When Mr. Trump tapped Mr. Walker as his anointed candidate, he figured the former Heisman Trophy winner, who guided the University of Georgia to a national championship in 1980, would have obvious appeal to Black voters, who turned out in force two years ago for Mr. Warnock, a minister at Atlanta’s Ebenezer Baptist Church.

That proved a miscalculation. But many Black men were also less than enamored with a Black woman, Stacey Abrams, in her rematch with Mr. Kemp in the race for governor. Mr. Kemp won handily in November with 53 percent of the vote, even as Mr. Warnock nearly cleared 50 percent, in part because some Black men voted for Mr. Kemp and Mr. Warnock.

On Tuesday, another Black male voter will be in the spotlight, the one who was so turned off by Ms. Abrams that he did not turn out Nov. 8. More than 76,000 voters who have cast runoff ballots already did not vote in the general election, according to GeorgiaVotes.com, a site that uses public data to analyze voting trends. That could be a sign of energized Black men.

Governor Kemp’s 2.1 million votes in November outpaced Mr. Walker’s total by more than 200,000. And Mr. Warnock’s 1.9 million votes exceeded Ms. Abrams’s total by more than 130,000.

Clearly, a large number of Georgians voted for both Mr. Kemp, a Republican, and Mr. Warnock, a Democrat.

One question on Tuesday will be whether voters who came out to re-elect Mr. Kemp, and perhaps grudgingly voted to re-elect Mr. Warnock, will come out again only for Mr. Warnock.

An even bigger question might be the corollary: Will Republican voters who turned out in November to vote for Mr. Kemp, and voted the straight Republican ticket, including for Mr. Walker, turn out again at all?

Mr. Walker has proved to be a deeply flawed candidate. Even before primary voters chose him in May, he had been accused of domestic violence and stalking by an ex-wife, an ex-girlfriend and a Dallas Cowboys cheerleader. Since then, he has had to own up to children out of wedlock. His son Christian Walker has publicly accused him of neglect and violence. And two women have said that Mr. Walker, who calls himself a devoutly anti-abortion Christian, pressed them to have abortions.

Mr. Kemp’s popularity helped Mr. Walker win 48.5 percent of the vote last month. On Tuesday, Mr. Walker will have to do even better than that, and without the governor’s coattails.

Sumber: www.nytimes.com

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