Buoyed by strong rural turnout and anchored by a late dump of DeKalb County votes, a pair of tight Senate runoffs are leaning toward the Democrats – and nearly mirroring InsiderAdvantage’s pre-election polls – with 98% of votes reporting.
At around 2:00AM national media declared Raphael Warnock a winner over Sen. Kelly Loeffler – he leads by just over one percent, some 53,000 votes. Meanwhile Jon Ossoff holds a much slimmer lead over Sen. David Perdue, just 16,000 votes.
Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger told CNN that he expects the rest of counting to wrap up by noon today – barring the (up to) 17,000 military and overseas ballots that are due to come in by 5:00PM Friday. The majority of votes left to be counted come from Democrat-leaning counties, making them the odds-on favorites to win the two races once all the votes are tabulated.
Loeffler and David Perdue led for much of the evening, but prediction models favored the Democrats as the night went along, pointing to heavy black turnout that in many cases matched totals from the general election. Republican turnout was also strong, but lagged just enough to leave the race within striking distance with just dark-blue DeKalb remaining with enough votes to swing the race.
A closer look at the vote totals – particularly those from DeKalb – is sure to come. As will a detailed post-mortem on how Democrats managed to turn out their base in such numbers for a runoff election, which the party hadn’t won in Georgia in more than 20 years. Warnock managed to pull in notably more votes than his counterpart Ossoff, what that says about him, or more likely Loeffler vs. Perdue, will be studied intensely in coming months.
Interestingly, in the oft-overlooked runoff for Public Service Commission, Republican incumbent Bubba McDonald appears to have defeated Democratic challenger Daniel Blackman, allowing the GOP to maintain full control over the PSC. A substantial number of Georgians apparently opted to vote a split ticket, supporting McDonald while going for the Democrats in the Senate races.