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Georgia Senate Special Election runoff - Ossoff/Warnock (D's) v. Purdue/Loeffler (R's) - 1/6/21

Today is the big runoff

What We Know About the Voting in Georgia So Far

Democrats may have claimed a bigger share of the early vote than they did in November’s election, election data shows. Some early votes may be counted more quickly on election night.

Georgians lined up to vote early last month in Cobb County, part of suburban Atlanta. Absentee ballots can be placed in drop boxes by 7 p.m. Tuesday to be counted.Credit…Lynsey

By Lisa Lerer

  • Jan. 4, 2021

Georgia’s runoff elections on Tuesday are high-stakes contests that will determine which party controls the Senate and set the agenda for the new administration in Washington.

Two Republican incumbents, Senators David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler, are battling to keep their seats. If their Democratic challengers, Jon Ossoff and the Rev. Raphael Warnock, both win, Democrats will reclaim the Senate majority.

Control of the Senate will effectively set the parameters of President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s first two years in office. A Republican-led Senate would complicate his ability to staff his cabinet, pass legislation and drive his political priorities.

Here’s a look at what we know about the two runoff races ahead of election day.

How have the Democrats and Republicans fared in early voting?

Three million people have already voted in the runoff races, nearly 40 percent of all the registered voters in the state, according to data compiled by the University of Florida’s U.S. Elections Project. That total surpasses the 2.1 million ballots cast in the state’s last Senate runoff election, which happened in 2008.

The early voting data suggests that the races are very competitive. There are some indications that Democrats had a bigger share of the early-voting electorate than they did in the general election, raising hopes for a party that has traditionally been the underdog in runoff races. The Atlanta area, the Democrats’ political base, has seen some of the highest turnout rates in the state’s early voting.

Senators Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue, the two Republican incumbents, campaigning last month in Milton, Ga.Credit…Dustin Chambers for The New York Times

The outcome now depends on whether Republicans can overcome the Democrats’ early gains when they head to the polls on Tuesday. Rates of early voting have been lowest in the conservative northwest corner of the state, worrying some Republicans. But others argue that their supporters typically vote in higher numbers on election day and hope that President Trump’s rally on Monday in Dalton, a city in the northwest, will push more Republicans to the polls.

Democrats’ early voting advantage helped them beat Mr. Trump in the November election, when Mr. Biden won nearly 400,000 more absentee ballots in the state.

When are the deadlines to vote?

For those planning to cast ballots in person on election day on Tuesday, voting locations open at 7 a.m. Eastern time and close at 7 p.m. Anyone in line at 7 p.m. can stay in line to vote.

Absentee ballots must be received by mail or placed in a drop box by 7 p.m. Tuesday to be counted. (Democrats warned voters on Monday not to mail in ballots at this point but to put them in drop boxes.) Military and overseas ballots must be postmarked by Tuesday.

Nicholas Kristof: A behind-the-scenes look at Nicholas Kristof’s gritty journalism, as he travels around the world.

What should we expect on election day?

Strategists from both parties remain uncertain on what to anticipate beyond a tight race. Demographic changes have shifted the politics in Georgia, turning the traditionally conservative Southern state into a hotly contested battleground.

In November, Mr. Perdue received 49.7 percent of the vote, just short of the majority he would have needed to avoid a runoff, while his challenger, Mr. Ossoff, had 47.9 percent — a difference of about 88,000 votes. The field was more crowded in the other Senate contest: Mr. Warnock finished with 32.9 percent of the vote and Ms. Loeffler with 25.9 percent.

Modeling the electorate for these rematches isn’t easy: Never has a Georgia runoff determined the balance of power in the Senate — or been held in the midst of a pandemic.

Both parties expect turnout to be significantly higher than in the 2008 Senate runoff election, though few analysts anticipate numbers close to the five million voters in Georgia who cast ballots in November’s general election.

At this point in the race, total turnout is 23 percent lower than it was in the November election, according to state data compiled by Ryan Anderson, a data analyst in Atlanta. About 1.2 million people who voted early in the general election have not yet voted in the runoffs.

When will we know the results?

The Georgia State Election Board extended some emergency provisions from the November election, like keeping drop boxes in place for absentee ballots. Some of the rules were tweaked to encourage a faster count, which would enable the winners to be seated sooner. The new Congress was already sworn in on Sunday.

Counties were required to begin scanning and processing ballots at least a week before the election, though they cannot begin counting or tabulating them until polls close on Tuesday. Those new rules may lead to quicker results, although in a close race most Georgians (and everyone else) may go to sleep before news outlets have enough results to declare a winner.

In November, it took a week and a half of counting after Election Day before it was clear that Mr. Biden had won the state.

Republicans are expected to command an early lead on election night, both because the more conservative areas of the state typically report results faster and because votes cast in person, which have favored Republicans during the pandemic, are typically released earlier. Heavily Democratic counties, including the suburban Atlanta areas that helped Mr. Biden win, historically take longer to count votes.

And yes, there could be yet another round of counting. Under Georgia law, if the margin separating the candidates is within half of a percentage point, the losing candidate can request a recount in which election officials would again run the ballots through scanners.

After multiple vote counts last year, state officials are preparing for all contingencies. The deputy secretary of state, Jordan Fuchs, has said the requirement for a full hand recount — like the one conducted in November — doesn’t apply to runoff elections.

How have the parties been strategizing?

Runoff races have traditionally been relatively sleepy contests, with lower turnout that has favored Republicans because of a drop-off among Democrats, particularly Black voters, after the general election. (The runoffs themselves were devised by white Georgians in the 1960s to dilute the power of Black voters.)

Not this year. A staggering influx of political spending has flooded the state, as campaign operatives, party officials and outside groups descended on the races. Nearly $500 million has been spent on advertising, according to Ad Impact, an advertising tracking firm, saturating the airwaves at previously unheard-of levels.

The Rev. Raphael Warnock, at lectern, and Jon Ossoff are the Democrats seeking to flip Georgia’s Senate seats.Credit…Nicole Craine for The New York Times

Democrats have worked to keep turnout high, intensifying their outreach efforts, targeting voters of color with focused advertising campaigns and deploying a flotilla of high-wattage political stars to the state. As Mr. Trump prepared for his rally on Monday night, Mr. Biden campaigned for the Democrats in Atlanta in the afternoon.

A push to reach new voters, led by Stacey Abrams, prompted an estimated 800,000 residents to register to vote in this election cycle — a groundswell that voter mobilization groups have tried to build upon since November. Some Democrats and voting rights organizations have raised concerns about access to voting locations and possible suppression.

The Democratic efforts may be working: Early voting data shows that nearly 31 percent of voters who have cast ballots are Black, an increase of about three percentage points from their share in the general election.

Republicans believe that some voters who backed Mr. Biden will want to see checks on Democratic power in Washington. But their effort has been complicated by Mr. Trump’s refusal to stop litigating the previous contest.

The release of an audio recording of a phone call in which Mr. Trump pressured Georgia’s secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger, to overturn the results of the election has upended the runoff races in the final days.

Some Republican strategists worry that Mr. Trump’s attacks on the presidential election results will complicate their efforts to win back some of the moderate suburban voters who fled their party in November.

A fringe group of conservatives is also encouraging Republicans to boycott the election to support Mr. Trump’s baseless claims about fraudulent vote counting, which could erode the two incumbents’ margins.

Phone Calls, Texts and Tinder — Georgia Campaigns Court Young Voters

As vast resources and hundreds of millions of dollars have been pumped into Georgia for the Senate runoffs, few groups have been as vigorously pursued as the state’s young voters.

ATLANTA — Invigorated by a surge in voter turnout in November that delivered a victory in Georgia for a Democratic presidential candidate for the first time in her life, and forced runoffs in two high-profile, high-stakes Senate races, Patricia Granda-Malaver got to work.

Ms. Granda-Malaver, 22, began working on phone banks and walking up to strangers, whether at her dentist’s office or the grocery store, asking whether they were registered to vote. She saw Georgia was changing and she wanted a diverse coalition of young voters to be the ones driving that change.

“Keeping up that momentum is something we’re really aware of,” she said of herself and other young voters who have spent the last two months focused on participation in Tuesday’s runoff races. The contests pit Senators David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler, both Republicans, against Jon Ossoff and the Rev. Raphael Warnock, both Democrats, in races that will determine which party controls the Senate.

As hundreds of millions of dollars have been pumped into Georgia, few groups have been as vigorously pursued as young voters.

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PBS reporting

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It is possible we might know the Georgia results on Tues nite - the tabulations start just after polls close 7p EST, and the election workers can prep the mail-in ballots to be able to insert them into the counting machines. They have approximately 1 million mail-ins and 2.1 million early voter ballots already.

For several reasons, it’s unlikely that it will take as long to count the votes in the two runoff elections that will determine control of the Senate, which are arriving at the finish line on Tuesday. It’s even possible — but certainly not guaranteed — that we’ll know who won on Tuesday night, or very early Wednesday.

Two factors work in favor of a faster count this time around. First, fewer races are on the ballot, which means less work for election officials. Second, after the general election, the Georgia State Election Board enacted a rule requiring counties to begin processing early and absentee ballots at least a week before future elections.

Officials can’t actually count the ballots until the polls close, but they can do all the time-consuming prep work. That means votes cast before election day — more than three million, according to Gabriel Sterling, a top state election official — should already be compiled, and pretty much all officials will need to do Tuesday night is hit “tabulate.

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Some polling spots are extending voting by 30 mins. Some results are coming in…too soon of course to know who’s winning.

Voting hours were extended less than an hour in a handful of precincts following a judge’s order. While voting was strong in some spots, state election officials reported light turnout early in the day, including across the deeply conservative region where President Donald Trump held a rally Monday night to encourage GOP voters to turn out in force.

In one contest, Republican Kelly Loeffler, a 50-year-old former businesswoman who was appointed to the Senate less than a year ago by the state’s governor, faced Democrat Raphael Warnock, 51, who serves as the senior pastor of the Atlanta church where Martin Luther King Jr. grew up and preached.

The other election pitted 71-year-old former business executive David Perdue, a Republican who held his Senate seat until his term expired on Sunday, against Democrat Jon Ossoff, a former congressional aide and journalist. At just 33 years old, Ossoff would be the Senate’s youngest member.

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45% of the expected vote counted and Ossoff and Warnock lead Purdue and Loeffler by around 54% to 46%. :crossed_fingers:

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MSNBC reporting that we are waiting on deKalb’s numbers which would be good for Dems at 10:15p EST

And Cobb County coming in still


10:30p EST

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11:pm EST

According to Gabriel Sterling -Voting System Implementation Manager for GA.

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CNN reporting 11:30EST

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NBC reporting 11:35PM EST

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People keep reacting to these NYT needles - now at 11:40p EST :grin:

MSNBC reporting 11:40P EST
MSNBC reporter

NYT Nate Cohn

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Not called by the networks etc. Watching the needles.

Comments from Senator-Elect (hopefully) Raphael Warnock


Stacey Abrams will cross every T and dot every i. She is sending out an ad to remind GA voters to make sure their mail-in ballot was accepted, and to get their ballot cured should it be disputed.

She is such a WIZ…and pulls out the stops for GA’s electionis.

The voting rights group launched by Stacey Abrams will roll out a statewide TV, digital and radio ad on Wednesday urging Georgians who cast votes in the consequential Senate runoffs to confirm their ballots were accepted.

The 30-second ad from Fair Fight features Abrams, the 2018 Democratic gubernatorial nominee, pointing Georgians toward to confirm the status of their vote – and find out if they need to correct signature discrepancies or confirm their eligibility by Friday so their ballots can be counted.

“Don’t wait. Your vote has the power to determine the future of Georgia and our country,” she said. “It’s time to make certain your voice was heard. Let’s get it done.”

More than 900,000 Georgians have cast mail-in ballots so far in the Jan. 5 Senate runoff election, but a small number, about 3,400, have been rejected by local election offices because of problems with signatures or other issues that require correction if they are to be counted.


SoS Raffensperger just went on the air, said that it’s nigh impossible for either Republican to win, and that Trump’s election attacks are to blame.


Destructo Don


Ossoff leads!!! 2:30am EST



Senator Warnock (D- GA) - yes!!