Georgia residents might have to wait at least one day to know the winner of Tuesday’s Senate runoff between Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-GA) and Republican challenger Herschel Walker.
Citing record-breaking early voting turnout, one state election official predicted that the results might not be apparent on election night as he expects a close contest.
“We’re preparing for, you know, it being a very tight race,” Georgia secretary of state’s chief operating officer Gabriel Sterling told CNN’s Pamela Brown in an interview Saturday. “I anticipate we may not know on Tuesday night. It just, it really depends because it’s up to the voters and they’re, and they’re showing up in droves.”
Officials have estimated more than 1.85 million Georgians have already voted, and two single-day records have been broken in about a week, according to NBC News. Sterling previously said he expects the final tally in early voting, which ended Friday, to reach over 1.9 million as absentee ballots are counted.
“There’s obviously a lot of enthusiasm. … Both Democrats and Republicans can point to the turnout models and say, ‘that’s good for us’ so nobody knows what’s going to happen,” Sterling told CNN.
Warnock is facing his second runoff in two years after neither he nor Walker reached the 50% support needed to win the general election in November. Chase Oliver, the Libertarian Party candidate, received a little more than 2% support, which would have been sufficient to put either Warnock or Walker over the threshold set by state law.
While Warnock has the backing of top Democrats, including President Joe Biden and former President Barack Obama, Walker, a former football star, is supported by former President Donald Trump.
Unlike the 2021 runoff election, in which Democrats swept both Senate seats in Georgia and took control of the chamber, the balance of power in the Senate will not be decided in the Peach State. Democrats already retained a razor-thin command with a win in Nevada, but having another seat could help party leadership bypass more centrist members who sometimes break ranks.
A recent CNN poll shows Warnock holding a narrow lead over Walker. Data indicates Democrats are outpacing Republicans in terms of in-person and mail-in early voting as well as ad spending, NBC News reported.