US Senate runoff brought high election day turnout and a close race

Credit: JOHN SPINK / AJC

Credit: JOHN SPINK / AJC

A total of 3.5 million Georgia voters cast ballots in Senate runoff

A big election day turnout in Tuesday’s U.S. Senate runoff brought even more Georgia voters to the polls than the first election day a month ago, but the flood of votes for Republican Herschel Walker on the final day wasn’t enough to overcome Democrat Raphael Warnock’s advantage among early voters.

More than 1.6 million voters cast their ballots Tuesday, and 57% of them supported Walker, according to state election data.

A higher number of voters, nearly 1.9 million, voted early or absentee, and 58% of them backed Warnock.

The result was that Warnock defeated Walker 51% to 49%, with a total turnout of 3.5 million voters in the runoff.

Turnout on election day surpassed expectations of election officials, who expected fewer voters to show up for the second round of voting. Instead, election day turnout increased by 200,000 voters from the 1.4 million people who cast ballots on Nov. 8 in the general election.

Despite the high amount of voter participation on Tuesday, overall turnout in the runoff was down 11% from the 3.9 million voters in last month’s general election. A drop-off in runoff voting is typical.

Early voting, which was limited to one week in most Georgia counties during the runoff, declined by 25% from the general election, when voters had three weeks to cast ballots during early voting.

Heavily Democratic counties offset the Republican advantage among election day voters.

ExploreWhat changed in US Senate runoff? Small gains for Warnock across Georgia

In Fulton County, where Warnock won 77% of the vote, election day turnout increased by 50,000 voters compared with the general election — the biggest jump in the state.

Other majority-Democratic counties also grew their election day turnout, including DeKalb and Gwinnett counties.

Republicans made significant election day turnout gains in smaller-population counties such as Cherokee, Coweta and Fayette counties.

About 47% of Georgia’s 7.5 million eligible voters participated in the runoff, according to voting-eligible population estimates by the U.S. Elections Project. By comparison, turnout was 53% in the general election.

During the 2020 presidential year, 68% of voters participated in the general election and 61% in the runoffs for the U.S. Senate.

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