Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-GA) faces GOP challenger Herschel Walker in the final U.S. Senate contest of 2022’s midterm elections in a runoff election on Tuesday, a contest that will settle the balance of power in the upper chamber of Congress.
While Democrats will, due to flipping the Pennsylvania U.S. Senate seat in November, retain the majority no matter what–since they have the White House and Vice President Kamala Harris in the worst case scenario for them to break any tie — holding this seat would give Democrats a clear majority and allow them to avoid entering into another power-sharing agreement with the GOP as they have had to this past Congress. On the other hand, should Walker flip it back into GOP hands, a 50-50 split Senate would force the Democrats to again make another power-sharing agreement with Republicans that ties up more controversial legislative proposals and nominees in committee.
Walker has long faced an uphill battle, as establishment media outlets and Democrats have attacked him aggressively personally throughout the campaign, while Warnock has generally received a pass on legitimate concerns about his background and work in Congress the past two years. Warnock won the seat in a special election runoff in January 2021, defeating then-Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-GA)–who was appointed into the job upon the retirement of former Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-GA)–allowing the Democrat to serve out the remainder of Isakson’s term. This election would be for a full six-year term in the U.S. Senate.
The runoff was forced after neither candidate cleared a majority threshold back on Nov. 8 on Election Day. The polls in Georgia close at 7 p.m. ET. Follow along here for results as soon as they begin coming in.
UPDATE 10:54 p.m. ET:
The Associated Press has called the race. Warnock has won reelection.
UPDATE 9:59 p.m. ET:
More here on why some are calling the race now:
UPDATE 9:47 p.m. ET:
Dave Wasserman from Cook Political Report says that Warnock will win:
Though he adds this disclaimer to the race call:
UPDATE 9:33 p.m. ET:
Things are beginning to look bleak for Walker:
Warnock HQ is celebrating the latest lead shift:
UPDATE 9:19 p.m. ET:
After Walker led for a bit ever so slightly, now with 77 percent reporting Warnock has retaken the lead and is up by more than a percent again.
UPDATE 9:10 p.m. ET:
With 74 percent reporting, Walker has taken a very slim lead 50.03 percent to Warnock’s 49.97 percent.
UPDATE 8:49 p.m. ET:
With 64 percent in now, Walker has sliced Warnock’s lead back down to 1.2 percent.
UPDATE 8:48 p,m. ET:
With 61 percent in now, Warnock’s lead is back up to 2 percent with Warnock at 51 percent and Walker at 49 percent.
UPDATE 8:42 p.m. ET:
With 59 percent in, Warnock’s lead is down to a little over a percent with Warnock at 50.6 percent and Walker at 49.4 percent.
UPDATE 8:41 p.m. ET:
There seems to be mixed news for Walker in the returns so far:
UPDATE 8:25 p.m. ET:
With 53 percent reporting now, the race has tightened considerably. Warnock still leads, but at 52 percent he is just four points above Walker’s 48 percent.
UPDATE 8:03 p.m. ET:
Others are saying similar things to what Cohn is saying:
UPDATE 7:55 p.m. ET:
The New York Times’s Nate Cohn is saying things are tracking for a Warnock victory:
UPDATE 7:38 p.m. ET:
With 30 percent reporting now statewide, the race is tightening and Warnock’s lead is down to just 10 points. Warnock is at 55 percent and Walker at 45 percent. Warnock leads by about 100,000 votes.
UPDATE 7:32 p.m. ET:
The first two counties close to complete suggest at least in these two counties Walker is outperforming his percentages in November:
UPDATE 7:25 p.m. ET:
Here is a look inside Walker’s campaign HQ tonight:
UPDATE 7:23 p.m. ET:
With 17 percent reporting statewide now, Warnock leads Walker by a little more than 125,000 votes. Warnock’s 61.1 percent is higher than Walker’s 38.9 percent.
UPDATE 7:19 p.m. ET:
From Breitbart News’s Ashley Oliver: “The Walker campaign is holding an election night event at the College Football Hall of Fame in Midtown Atlanta. The Warnock campaign is holding its event nearby in Atlanta as well. A Walker campaign spokesperson said on background that the secretary of state’s office expects Election Day turnout to hit around 1.6 million votes, which does not include the 1.8 million early voters.”
UPDATE 7:14 p.m. ET:
A huge chunk of votes just reported from Fulton County, in the Atlanta area, surging Warnock into the lead. Warnock’s approximately 227,000 votes leads Walker’s approximately 111,000 votes significantly. Again, still early and votes are streaming in from across the state.
UPDATE 7:10 p.m. ET:
The very first results are trickling in and Walker has an early lead. With just over five thousand votes, Walker is just north of 65 percent and Warnock, just shy of 2,700 votes, is just shy of 35 percent. More than a million Georgians voted on Tuesday though so this is very, very early.
UPDATE 7 p.m. ET:
Polls have closed in Georgia. Results are expected imminently.