Democrats strengthened their majority in the Senate on Tuesday night, thanks in part to a rebuke from the Georgia suburban Republican nominee.
Turnout was slightly lower in Tuesday’s runoff than in November’s general election, with about 400,000 voters, but Senator Raphael G. Warnock (D) has more than doubled his lead over Republican Herschel Walker. The Democrat led by about 95,000 votes on Wednesday, surpassing his 37,000-vote margin in the general election.
Both candidates fought to get voters back to the polls just a month after the November 8 general election. In second-round elections, which take place when no candidate gets more than 50 percent, turnout is regularly lower. About 3.5 million voters turned out for the second round, up from 3.9 million in November’s general election.
Walker was seemingly unable to get the voters he needed to offset Warnock’s advantages in urban and suburban areas. While Warnock won suburban areas by 190,000 votes in November, he led them by 223,000 in December’s second round.
Walker, plagued by several scandals during his campaign, had already shown weakness in these areas: The ex-football star already significantly underperformed Governor Brian Kemp, also a Republican, in November’s vote-rich Atlanta suburbs.
That drop in attendance, especially in the North Georgia suburbs of Atlanta, hurt Walker. Forsyth County garnered 66,000 votes in Walker’s November appearance, but only 58,000 in December. In neighboring Cherokee County, Walker dropped from 81,000 to 72,000. While Walker still won both counties, both moved closer to Warnock this time around.
The same trend was true in the rural areas that Walker dominated: in the second round, he won the rural areas by 319,000 votes, compared to his lead of 358,000 there in November.
In a continuing trend from November, counties south of Atlanta saw marked shifts toward Warnock. Diversifying Henry County, for example, has moved toward Democrats faster than any other in Georgia, transforming from a Republican stronghold to a Democratic stronghold in just a few years, The Post’s Theodoric Meyer reported Monday. A 10 percent drop in overall voter turnout resulted in 3,400 fewer votes for Warnock, but 4,400 fewer for Walker.
Unlike previous rounds, higher-educated and higher-income areas were less enthusiastic about voting in the second round, according to a Post analysis of district-level results. In the district with the smallest share of registered voters with a college degree, turnout fell 9.2 percent compared to November. In districts with the highest share of highly educated voters, turnout fell by 10.5 percent.
Similarly, areas with the lowest median household income saw an 8.4 percent drop in voters, while those with the highest median household income fell 10.9 percent.
Turnout figures will rise as additional ballots are counted on Wednesday.
Turnout fell 10 percent this second round, similar to the second round of Georgia’s 2021 Senate election, when it fell 9 percent from about 4.9 million to about 4.5 million, according to Edison Research. Still, the recent election represents much enthusiasm in a runoff: In the state’s 2008 and 1992 senate elections, voter turnout fell 43 percent between the general election and the runoff.
Lenny Bronner, Dara Gold and Scott Clement contributed to this report.
Sources: Secretary of State of Georgia, L2 voter data, Associated Press election results.