More than 1.4 million people voted in Georgia before the two runoff elections to the US Senate on January 5, a sign that the enthusiasm has not let up since the presidential election.
According to data from Georgia Votes, a non-partisan website that tracks voter turnout in the state, those early voting numbers correspond to the historic voter turnout in the November presidential contest. At the time of the general election, the turnout was around 1.5 million according to location information.
“It’s breathtaking,” Charles Bullock, professor of political science at the University of Georgia, told Vox. Current voter turnout is also close to two-thirds of the 2.1 million votes cast in the 2008 Senate runoff, the most recent Senate runoff in the state’s history. “We are well on our way to exceed these percentages,” added Bullock.
It’s too early to say who will ultimately benefit from these trends in the races between Senator David Perdue (R) and Democrat Jon Ossoff, and Senator Kelly Loeffler (R) and Democrat Rev. Raphael Warnock. Georgia is historically Republican, but President-elect Joe Biden was the first Democrat to win a presidential race there since 1992.
There are still two weeks of early voting left before the runoff elections that will ultimately determine which party will control the US Senate – and, broadly, the fate of much of Biden’s agenda in Washington, DC. Democrats would have to win both seats to get the smallest majority in the Senate: 50 votes plus the groundbreaking vote of elected Vice President Kamala Harris.
A high turnout is essential for Democratic candidates Rev. Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff, who ran behind Biden in the November election. The data shows that more than 41,000 voters who cast ballots during the early voting did not vote in the 2020 general election. This group makes up a little less than 3 percent of the total electorate, but with a narrow and narrow poll, even a small group could make all the difference.
Republicans know that much is at stake, but they sometimes struggle with the news needed to get their base started, especially since President Donald Trump refuses to admit he lost the November election.
“Turnout is important,” Cook Political Report Senate editor Jessica Taylor recently told Vox. “Democrats need to get their voters to come back.”
What we know so far about early turnout
The data breakdown of the 1.4 million Georgian votes cast so far provides some encouraging signs for Democrats.
The biggest choice is the black turnout, which currently accounts for around 32 percent of the total turnout, according to Georgia Votes. Bullock and New York Times election analyst Nate Cohn noted that black voter turnout appears to have been higher than it was at the time in the general election. Black voters are the backbone of the grassroots Democratic Party in Georgia, but their share of the vote fell slightly to 27 percent in the 2020 election.
Political experts say the black vote needs to be closer to 30 percent for Democrats to do well. While that 32 percent figure looks encouraging now, it’s impossible to make any prediction from those numbers without knowing what the January 5th turnout will look like. In other words, even if the Democrats did well in the early voting, Republican voters could wipe out those gains in early January.
“They could drop out much more often as African Americans and bring those numbers down,” Bullock said.
Although black voters undoubtedly make up the majority of Georgia’s democratic base, the 2020 elections showed that a successful coalition also consists of Asian American and Pacific Islander voters (AAPI), Latin American voters, and suburban white women.
Georgia Votes data shows that female voters outperform men by 54 to 44 percent so far in the early election term, but those numbers, too, will undoubtedly shift as we near the polls.
“It’s not just one group you want to get out of,” Senator Jen Jordan, a Georgia Democrat, recently told Vox. “If any of these components really go down, you lose – and that’s why it’s difficult. It’s a much tougher task for Democrats, but that doesn’t mean it can’t or won’t happen. “
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