Hello, and welcome back to The Election Recap, your one-stop shop for the last seven days of midterms — I mean Georgia runoff — news. I'm Brigid Kennedy, and I'm thrilled to be back with a special newsletter looking at the last race of 2022. Let's get into it:
First and foremost, let's recap why we're dealing with a Senate runoff in the first place. In short, neither Democratic incumbent Sen. Raphael Warnock nor former professional football player and Republican Herschel Walker was able to secure at least 50 percent of the vote in the November election, thus pushing the contest to a Dec. 6 rematch. (Warnock ultimately commanded 49.4 percent to Walker's 48.5, a 35,000-vote difference.) At the moment, it seems the incumbent could eke out a victory; per The University of Massachusetts Lowell's Center for Public Opinion, which surveyed 1,300 likely Georgia voters between Nov. 18-28, 2022, support for Warnock is running slightly ahead of that for Walker, 51 percent to 46. And, as noted by Axios, Walker "underperformed the rest of the Georgia Republican ticket" on Election Day, "running 7 points behind Gov. Brian Kemp in Cobb County, an affluent and fast-diversifying county in the Atlanta suburbs." Still, strategists and pundits are expecting a tight race, despite "signs of growing momentum" in Georgia for Warnock, Politico writes. Regarding platform, Warnock has emphasized Democrats' victories on Capitol Hill, while Walker has framed the race as a referendum on President Biden.
Getting the worm
Early voting was off to a rip-roaring start last week, with Georgians turning out in mammoth numbers to cast their ballots before the Friday deadline. More than 1.8 million had voted as of Dec. 2; in fact, turnout "broke daily voting records three times since polls in all 159 counties opened last Monday," ultimately outpacing previous state records from runoffs in 2018 and 2016, ABC News adds. Such historic participation is likely a result of a 2021 state elections reform bill that condensed the timeline for early voting in a runoff from at least 17 days to at least five. Critics of the law, like the defeated Democratic candidate for Georgia governor Stacey Abrams, argue it contributes to voter suppression, while supporters, like Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, claim it is key to election integrity. Regardless, early totals from this year's runoff are "unlikely to rival" those from last year's, "when early voting was available for several weeks," ABC News continues, per experts. "Early in-person voting is popular, and it's relatively new," Charles Bullock, a political science professor at the University of Georgia, told the outlet. "It's compressed into a single week as opposed to being spread over three weeks. So if you're going to do it, you got to move quickly."
Duncan dunks on Walker
Georgia Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan, a Republican, is not impressed with Herschel Walker, who he said will "probably go down as one of the worst candidates in our party's history." Speaking recently with CBS News, Duncan said Walker "wasn't the right brand for Republicanism," and that he has kids who could probably "articulate the conservative platform better than some of the candidates that [former President Donald Trump] and his group" chose to back in the midterms, Walker included. And though he did not consequently cast his vote for Warnock, Duncan nonetheless declined to vote for Walker — last week, the lieutenant governor, a "fierce Trump critic," per Atlanta's Fox 5, told CNN he "just couldn't find anything that made sense for me to put my vote behind," so he "walked out of that ballot box showing up to vote, but not voting for either one of them." He added that it was the "most disappointing ballot I've ever stared at in my entire life since I started voting." Sheeeeesh. For what it's worth, Walker's earlier campaign was marred by controversy, including reports that he urged two previous partners to get abortions despite claiming to be staunchly pro-life.
A 15-year-old boy volunteering for Raphael Warnock's campaign was shot in the leg while canvassing in Savannah, Georgia, on Friday, multiple outlets reported last week. Police were mobilized just after 5:30 p.m. that day, and have since arrested a 42 or 43-year-old suspect, who was "booked on charges of aggravated assault and aggravated battery," writes NBC News. "I am saddened to learn about this incident," Warnock said in a statement. "I am praying for the victim and their family and wish them a full recovery." The teen's injuries are not considered life-threatening. He was shot when the suspect, Jimmy Paiz, fired through the closed door of his home, outside of which the unnamed victim was standing. "The case remains under investigation," Savannah police said Friday. "At this point, there is no indication the shooting was politically motivated." Per public records, Paiz is a registered voter and did not have a criminal history, The New York Times reports.
- Why President Biden has kept the Georgia race at arm's length. [The Hill]
- Here's what Democrats could do with a 51st Senate seat. [Bloomberg, The Week]
- Another woman — Cheryl Parsa — has come forward against Walker, alleging he is "unstable" and has "little to no control" over his mental health when out of treatment. [The Daily Beast]
- "Six looming lessons from the Georgia runoff." [Politico]
- How either Walker or Warnock could win. [FiveThirtyEight]
Coming up …
- Get your Twitter feeds and television remotes ready — it's almost runoff time. Join us tomorrow at TheWeek.com as we explain the stakes, recap the results, and (finally) put 2022 midterms season behind us. Polls will close at 7 p.m. ET. on Tuesday.
- …But mark your calendar for Dec. 12, when I'll be back with another in-depth, runoff-focused newsletter in case you fall behind on coverage. See you then!