It is rare for a run-off election to generate much interest among voters, but Georgia appears set to be the exception, with the next two runoffs in the Senate in January that will determine who controls the Senate.
Republicans and Democrats are looking for new voters in the state, despite CBS News Exit ballot The general election results indicate that neither party has much room to grow outside its bases ahead of the January run-off. Time is short, with just over two weeks before early voting begins. One race pits Republican Senator Kelly Loeffler against Democrat Reverend Raphael Warnock, and the other defends Republican David Purdue for his seat against John Usoff.
Tri Hood, a professor of political science at the University of Georgia, thinks it is critical for parties to attract new voters into their alliances to remain viable in January. There are some opportunities for both parties, but first, they will likely try to ensure that the people they voted for in November cast their ballots again by January 5.
Vote by mail
Despite President Trump’s attacks on mail voting, Georgians have seized the opportunity to vote by mail amid the spike in COVID infections. In November, like other states, they broke mail-order voting records, successfully ordering and returning 1.3 million absentee ballots, a 74% return rate, while nearly 2.7 million people voted early. Sure, mail voting will be a key part of the Democrats’ effort in January, too.
Joe Biden dominated the absentee vote, with about 850,000 votes, compared to 451,000 for Trump. That margin of nearly 2 to 1 helped overcome his deficit in early in-person voting – Mr. Biden had roughly 1,251,000 versus Mr. Trump’s 1,419,000 – and in the Election Day ballot, when the President got 588,000. Roughly, compared to 367,000 Mr. Biden votes.
It’s hard to predict how many – and by what means – will vote in January, but the US Election Project says nearly 825,000 people have so far requested ballot papers in the mail by Wednesday morning. Georgians have January 1 to send their requests, although the U.S. Postal Service recommends sending applications as soon as possible. Voters can register for the run-off until December 7, and early voting will begin on December 14.
Most Georgians have likely already made their decisions about who gets their vote. No voter who spoke to CBS News planned to change votes in the January contests. A week before the November election, a CBS News poll showed that only 4% of potential voters were unsure in the Perdue-Ossoff race. Perdue led by 49.7% versus 47.9% for Osov, down only 0.3% on an outright victory. Libertarian Shane Hazel was eliminated with 2.3% of the vote.
Purdue’s vote was not split among Republicans, with Senator Kelly Loeffler’s votes in its race, and he actually won a few more votes than President Trump, at 49.7%, compared to 49.3% for the president. Ossoff finished with 47.9% support, leaving him with a nearly two-point lead to make up in January.
In another Senate race, Loeffler and Collins won the special election to fill former Senator Johnny Isaacson’s seat with 45% of the vote, ahead of Warnock with 32.9%. The other Democratic candidates got a combined 15%.
Dorothy Harby, 70, was among the majority of voters who knew who she was supporting before the election. Long-time Republican Harby said she voted for Perdue and Lovler. And it will support them again in the runoff rounds.
“Senator Purdue has been there for a long time and has experience,” said Harby, who lives in Atlanta. “I don’t think we need the other candidate, John Usoff, because he’s not qualified. He’s not experienced.”
Longtime Democrat Latrina Johnson, 63, of Savannah, first spoke to CBS News in October, during the early voting period. She voted for Warnock and Osoff and then said she plans to do it again in a few weeks. The vote for Ossoff was an easy call for her – due to one endorsement.
Johnson said, “Barack Obama supports him 100% and you can’t go wrong with Barack Obama, so I support those who support him.”
Purdue lost the support of white voters
As was the case in the presidential race, white Georgia voters, who make up 61% of Georgia’s electorate and who mostly supported President Trump, also went to Purdue at 69%, but he performed poorly with this group, compared to his last attempt at Senate in 2014, when it got 74% of their vote.
In her race, Loeffler won the largest share of support from white voters (42%), outperforming the other Republican in the race, Congressman Doug Collins, who had 28% support.
Purdue won white voters with college degrees, although his margins with this group are much lower compared to his last attempt. In 2014, Purdue won 70% of white college graduates, while this year it won a much smaller percentage: 56%.
Jeremy Frederiksen, 39, with a degree in economics, said he voted for Purdue and Loofler because they better represent his conservative values.
“It just didn’t make sense to me,” Fredricksen said. “The conservative value type of gear is more towards the worker and the woman with personal responsibility, God … and these are signs of strength.”
Hood, who is also director of the University of Georgia Survey Research Center, said there is a shift in the base of both political parties.
“You would likely have a greater percentage of whites with a college education [voters] They’re still Republicans in Georgia compared to, say, Wisconsin or something like that, Hood said. “It’s very interesting that the party base has shifted in terms of the type of working class that is kind of the Republican party base now.”
Democrats lead with independents
Republicans and Democrats in Georgia largely voted within their party, but Usof and Warnock also performed well with the Independents in November. They won 51% and 37% of the independent electorate, respectively. Six percent of independents chose liberal candidate Shane Hazel over USOF or Purdue.
In the Perdue-Ossoff match, among the 38% of voters considered moderate, Ossoff won 63% of their vote, while Perdue won only 34%.
“Things are split evenly in terms of total votes between Republicans and Democrats, so someone will have to reach out and get some new voters for their alliance to survive, and for both. [parties] “They could be Hispanic voters,” Hood said.
Both sides look at the Latins
Both parties are likely to target Latino voters as well, who were more divided in their support for the Democratic candidates. Nearly a third went to Rev. Raphael Warnock, while 26% voted for the other Democratic candidate, Matt Lieberman. Overall, Latins made up 7% of the state’s electorate in November.
Ausov received less support from Latino voters (52%) than President-elect Biden, who garnered 62% of the Latin vote in Georgia, while Purdue did better with Latins than President Trump, receiving 43% of the vote. Mr. Trump garnered 37% of the state’s Latin vote. And while Hazel only got around 2% of the total vote, he did get 4% of the Latin vote.
“The Hispanic population is increasing and continues to grow in Georgia, while the white population is shrinking somewhat and the black population [are] “Fairly stable, little grows,” Hood said
Black voters turn to the Democrats
Hood says the turnout of blacks is “crucial for the Democratic Alliance.” He noted that, “In the last round of statewide Senate elections we had in 2008 with Saxby Chambliss, the calculations were made, and the black turnout of the General, from the 2008 General to the run-off, fell by three points. So, that was very high,” Chambliss said. In the run-off with about 15 points, “and many of them were due to this decline in the percentage of black participation,” adding, “If it happened again, it would be very harmful to the Democratic candidates in the run-off.”
Black voters make up 29% of Georgia voters, and 88% voted for Biden. Black women voted overwhelmingly for John Usoff – similar to the presidential race, Biden garnering 92% of the black women’s vote in Georgia. The majority of black voters also went to Warnock. Johnson said Warnock appealed to her because of his life experiences.
Johnson said: “He could call. Period.” “He grew up on one of the big projects here in Savannah, Georgia … he had a lot of brothers and sisters and everything, and the bottom line is: [he] You can relate to our struggle. ”
Another challenge to Republicans is that their top party members, including President Trump and the two Republicans running for the Senate, have sowed doubts about the election system and any Republicans who supported it, including Georgia’s governor and secretary of state. It remains to be seen whether the Republican Party can now persuade its voters to reappear in January to take part in a process they have worked to undermine.
“The integrity of the system is what I am totally 100% on,” said Fredrickson, who lives outside of Warner Robins. “If we lose that fair status, so be it. Well, America voted that way, and I don’t think they did.”