Early voting is underway in Georgia in what promises to be an intense week and a half of campaigning between GOP Senate candidate Herschel Walker and incumbent Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock.
Walker and Warnock were forced to continue campaigning until the December 6 general election after neither candidate won more than 50 percent of the vote in their closely watched mid-term elections, and have since stepped up their campaign ads and fundraising effort.
A Warnock victory would mean Democrats increased their razor-thin majority in the Senate, while a Walker victory would keep their total at 50 seats, with the tiebreaking vote of Democratic Vice President Kamala Harris.
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Although control of the Senate is not up for grabs as many predicted it would be, Georgia is seeing high turnout for early voting in the runoff.
Data from the Georgia Secretary of State’s website showed early Sunday that about 90,000 voters had already cast their ballots just one day after early voting opened in some Georgia counties — after the Georgia Supreme Court rejected a Republican bid to block early voting Saturday.
More Georgians voted on Sunday than any Sunday in the 2018, 2020 and 2022 parliamentary elections or in the 2021 Senate Senate elections, according to Warnock’s campaign director Quentin Fulks. The Hill has contacted the Georgia Secretary of State to confirm this data.
Georgia boasted record turnout through the midterms, with more than 143,000 votes cast on the first day of early voting ahead of the general election.
Warnock has urged Georgians to “show up again” to confirm the narrow 1-point lead he saw in the general election.
Polls show the two candidates again heading for the runoff, though Walker appears to be slightly ahead: The latest FiveThirtyEight polling averages put Walker up 1 percentage point over Warnock, 47.8 percent to 46.8 percent.
Another poll released last week by AARP put Walker ahead by 4 percentage points, although Warnock was leading among voters aged 18-49.
As of Nov. 16, Warnock had nearly three times as many funds ready as his challenger, according to a report by CNBC.
On the first day of his runoff campaign, Walker reportedly raised $3.3 million for his runoff campaign. The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee pledged $7 million to Warnock’s runoff efforts.
Campaign rhetoric has also picked up again as the runoff approaches.
Warnock has said the former NFL star is “a major liar” and “not serious,” while Walker has called the incumbent a “hypocrite” and accused him of pandering to Democratic leadership, according to the Associated Press.
Warnock touted his character in a new TV ad after Walker defended himself against abuse allegations from his ex-wife and claims from a former girlfriend that he paid for her abortion.
“Character is what you do when no one is watching. It’s about doing the right thing simply because it’s the right thing, and doing it over and over again,” the Democrat said in a recent ad, without naming Walker.
But the Democrat has more direct knocked Walker for his apparent contradictions regarding abortion.
Walker’s supporters, on the other hand, have released an ad accusing Warnock of mismanaging an Atlanta apartment building with a link to his church.