Polls closed in Georgia around 4 PM Seattle-time. That means the state has finished voting in their big, juicy, ripe Senate runoffs, which could make or break President-elect Joe Biden's legislative agenda. Results are coming in now and we'll have more updates once things start to settle.
NBC News, CNN, and the Associated Press have all called Georgia’s special election Senate runoff for Reverend Raphael Gamaliel Warnock. Hallelujah! Warnock will become the first Black person to represent Georgia in the Senate.
BREAKING: Raphael Warnock wins U.S. Senate runoff in Georgia, NBC News projects. https://t.co/JoJRV1sEDI pic.twitter.com/KRlHyBZo79
— NBC News (@NBCNews) January 6, 2021
Meanwhile, Ossoff has now taken the lead over Perdue with 97% reporting. Our favorite straight twink is up by just over 3500 votes. It's not over 'til it's over.
Ossoff just took the leadhttps://t.co/cGYTMEeqTy pic.twitter.com/hfQARrrcgu
— Mike Baker (@ByMikeBaker) January 6, 2021
I'm taking a bong rip. We'll pop back on here if something spicy happens, like if someone says that twink won.
The potentially-on-her-way-out-Senator Loeffler has now indicated to Fox News that she does not plan to make any remarks within the next half hour as she's still trying to "get a more definitive idea of results before speaking." Fair enough—she should tell that to her buddy Trump:
Looks like they are setting up a big “voter dump” against the Republican candidates. Waiting to see how many votes they need?
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 6, 2021
A giant load just dropped in DeKalb. The calls will probably follow.
It's approaching the midnight hour in Georgia and we're still patiently waiting for more county results to come in. Both Ossoff and Warnock decided to forgo election night parties, assuming that election results would be slow to come in, reports AJC. Fox News, however, says that Loeffler is planning to make remarks around 8 pm over on this coast. More from Fox:
Per Fox News' Peter Doocy and Pat Ward: A campaign official tells Fox News they expect to know enough about the results for Sen. Loeffler to make remarks around 11pm—one way or the other.
Loeffler is upstairs in a hotel room with her parents, as a lively and well attended party builds in a ballroom on the ground level." (emphasis mine)
If you're a masochist, tune into the Georgia Republican Party's election night watch party for yourself.
Remember that the counties around Atlanta still have a lot to report. As of this update, DeKalb County is only reporting from .5% of its precincts. A big dump from DeKalb is imminent. There's some chatter that networks could call the race for Warnock once the DeKalb votes come through, but let's not get ahead of ourselves.
There is a large group of votes from DeKalb Co., the early in person votes that should be uploaded soon. That will be 171k+. #gapol
— Gabriel Sterling (@GabrielSterling) January 6, 2021
A good amount of Republican-leaning counties are fully reporting all of their precincts, and turnout is looking okaaaaay—hovering around 55%, compared to around 65% during the November election. If GOP turnout slumps, who could we attribute it to? Gabriel Sterling, a Republican election official, did not mince words when explaining his theory. He told CNN this evening that "the blame" would "fall squarely on the shoulders of President Trump and his actions since Nov. 3." With the way Trump consistently undermined faith in the electoral system within his own party, I think I would agree with Sterling.
A lesson in why we wait: An hour or so ago, Whitfield County, where Trump did his rambling rally last night in Dalton, had 95% of its precincts reporting and only a 30.30% voter turnout. That county landed at 67.5% turnout back in November. But in the past hour, that last 5% of precinct data popped through and the voter turnout jumped up to 56.66%. That tracks with the other Republican-leaning counties. I don't think the GOP can win with those numbers, but we'll see. The needles lean toward the Dems.
Here's some optimism, if you're a Democrat who likes to live on the edge: Democrats flipped Washington County, which was red in November. Macon County is fully reporting (results here), and Warnock and Ossoff are both beating Joe Biden's numbers from November. That's good news for the Dems.
A little tidbit for the history nerds out here: Wondering why Georgia has to go through this process in the first place? The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has a quick explainer on the issue over here. Long story short, Perdue finds himself in this predicament partially due to his first cousin, the former governor of Georgia. Isn’t that how it always goes?
In the 1990s, Georgia Democrats changed the law to make it easier for candidates to avoid runoffs by lowering the winning threshold from 50% to 45%. (That came after Republican Paul Coverdell upset Democratic incumbent Wyche Fowler in the 1992 Senate race.) Republicans reversed that decision when they took over the legislature in 2005 and reinstalled the majority vote requirement. The governor who signed that into law: Sonny Perdue.
Since then, there’s been little discussion of changing the rules, especially with the GOP holding all major offices and carrying all past statewide runoffs. But we wonder if that will change should Perdue or U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler lose their reelection bids.
Look we are as hungry for accurate numbers as you are. CNN has the turnout numbers from Fulton County—home of Atlanta—and it's looking good. More than 450,000 Georgians in the county voted in the runoff, says Richard Barron, county director of elections. Compare that to the county's general election turnout of 528,000 people. Not so bad, eh? "It's not quite November, but for a runoff, this is pretty impressive turnout," said Barron during a county elections board meeting on Tuesday.
We're still hunting for turnout numbers and we'll update accordingly. In the meantime, we'll leave you with this morsel of speculation:
The biggest unknown and possible source of GOP comeback: what does final Dem turnout look like in the more transient, outer suburban ATL ring (Gwinnett, Cobb, Henry, etc.)?
— Dave Wasserman (@Redistrict) January 6, 2021
It's too early to do much with these results, but this update looks familiar:
The Trump-style, anti-press movement is alive and well in Georgia tonight: Georgia Public Broadcasting says the state G.O.P. barred a reporter from its election-night headquarters.
The Georgia GOP responded on Twitter: "Space is limited because of public health restrictions but you can follow us here on Twitter!"
Reminds me of when the Washington GOP wouldn't let The Stranger's Rich Smith into their party, probably because he called Dino Rossi a loser.
Congratulations. The most expensive Senate races in U.S. history have wrapped up the most important part: the voting. Now comes the waiting. A reminder from Joe:
Stay in line, Georgia. If you’re in line at your polling place by 7 PM, you can vote.
— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) January 5, 2021
He's right! Georgia law says you can vote as long as you're waiting in line by 7 o'clock.
While we wait for results to trickle on in, now's a good time to take stock of how expensive these fucking races were: "The race between Republican Sen. David Perdue and Democrat Jon Ossoff is the most expensive Senate contest ever, with the candidates and outside groups spending nearly $470 million through Monday. The special election featuring Sen. Kelly Loeffler and Rev. Raphael Warnock has drawn nearly $363 million, good for the No. 2 spot."
sldkfjsladkjflksadjfklsdjf that's a lot of money https://t.co/nQiErLHWEM pic.twitter.com/WqH5Ksjm0u
— Chase Burns (@chaseburnsy) January 5, 2021
In totally unrelated news: Kim K. and Kanye might get divorced.
As we mentioned earlier, both Loeffler and Perdue need Republicans in rural counties to turn out the vote to win—and it's looking like that just might happen. Here's CNN:
"Cherokee County, north of Atlanta, is on pace to eclipse the GOP’s target goal for turnout in that county. In November, President Trump won the county with nearly 70% of the vote.These counties are mirroring a trend seen across the state. In a joint statement, Loeffler and Perdue said they were "encouraged" by the turnout particularly in North Georgia, but acknowledge that this will be "a very close election and could come down to the difference of just a few votes in a few precincts across the state." The calm before the accusations of voter fraud, methinks. Meanwhile, their beloved president....
Another county with above average turnout is Houston County, which is south of Macon and is David Perdue’s home county. Republicans are encouraged by the brisk turnout in the Senator’s home county. President Trump won Houston County easily as well with more than 55% of the vote."
Antifa is a Terrorist Organization, stay out of Washington. Law enforcement is watching you very closely! @DeptofDefense @TheJusticeDept @DHSgov @DHS_Wolf @SecBernhardt @SecretService @FBI
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 5, 2021
I'm really against politicians using social media, not because of any upstanding or interesting moral principle, but simply because they are corny as hell. Also did he part his hair differently?
@jon ##duet with @jon ##GASenateRunoff ##VoteYourOssoff
♬ original sound - Jon Ossoff
Outside of one minor problem in Columbia County, there have been no major voting hiccups reported during today's election. By all accounts, the voting process going into the late afternoon has been a chill, fraud-free process. In an interview earlier today with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, voting system manager Gabriel Sterling said that wait times were between one and five minutes in most places, with the longest wait times clocking in at 30 minutes in Cobb and DeKalb Counties. Most voters are trickling in. The New York Times says that early voting has helped control crowds at polling places—nearly 3.1 million Georgians cast their ballots before today, roughly 40% of all registered voters in the state.
Remember those things? There was such a hubbub over them during 2016, but they really faltered for me during November's election. In any case, the New York Times says they will begin to make estimates after 4 p.m. PST when the polls close. Just another thing to keep your eye on.
The NYT forecast needles are now activated for tonight's Georgia Senate races.https://t.co/48Y3Db96Pu pic.twitter.com/DS6KeKm6gL
— Mike Baker (@ByMikeBaker) January 5, 2021
Something we'll pay attention to this week is how well incumbent Sen. Loeffler does in the counties that went to her Republican challenger, former Rep. Doug Collins, who received 19.95% of the vote in November, compared to Loeffler's 25.91%.
Collins did particularly well in northeast Georgia and in the southern strip between Savannah and the Florida border (swamp country, basically). Check out this map:
Loeffler will need the full Georgia GOP coalition to beat Warnock.
As for the Dems, the strongest areas of support remain the counties around Georgia's bigger cities: Atlanta, Savannah, Columbus, Macon, and Augusta. Here's a map of the Perdue vs. Ossoff race in November:
Jackson County Sheriff Janis Mangum said polling places in ten Georgia counties received a "vulgar" and "very long" email ranting that the US Senate runoff elections were rigged and threatened to blow the places up. Mangum said she was made aware of the situation on Saturday night and contacted US Homeland Security. Even before the emails were sent, however, Mangum said she made sure to assign two deputies to each of the four polling locations in her county. From The Augusta Chronicle:
“It goes on and talks about the election being rigged. It has a bunch of F words and vulgar profanity,” [Mangum] said. “I don’t know if it was meant to deter people from voting or if it’s just the time we’re living in. You don’t know."
Mangum said the GBI is trying to track the IP addresses on the e-mails.
WSB TV reported that GBI Director Vic Reynolds encouraged Georgians to vote Tuesday.
“I feel comfortable that they should do it, that they will be safe doing it,” Reynolds told the Atlanta station.
“It was discovered that employees from several Georgia counties received the same email. Currently the source of the emails has not been identified,” the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office reported Tuesday on its Facebook page.