Georgia Could Really Go Either Way Tuesday

The odds are good we all will not know the results of Georgia’s Senate run – offs when we go to bed tonight but both parties have reasons for optimism tonight.

The reasons for each are summarized below.

Democratic optimism:

  1. Both Warnock and Ossoff lead by a a tiny margin. While the polling industry had a tough 2020, polls had a better night in Georgia. Considering this, Democrats should be relieved they lead in the polls, even if it is within the margin of error, vs. trailing.
  2. Awesome fundraising numbers. Both Ossoff and Warnock are rolling in dough and have both raised over $100 million. Even if most of that money is coming from out of state it still fuels voter registration and turnout efforts. Plus, it has allowed their campaigns to spit out TV ad after TV ad. Compared to Loeffler and Perdue, Democratic numbers are almost double their opponents numbers.
  3. Early voting numbers suggest black turnout is hitting the magic number for the party. Whereas exit polls showed blacked turnout at only 28 percent, early returns suggest it has maxed out at 31 percent for the run – offs. If one assumes the party left black voters on the table due to their anemic turnout last year, increased turnout could be the deciding factor tomorrow.
  4. This argument is more of a stretch but still plausible in that Warnock technically got more votes than Loeffler and the Liberterian Senate candidate’s vote total was more than Perdue’s margin of victory over Ossoff. Some precedent exists for when this occurs the majority of these voters flock to their opponents. That said, this hits the wall of Democrats falling flat in past run – offs. But, if Trump is driving Democratic turnout all bets are off on precedent mattering.

Despite the obvious positive signs for Democrats there are positive signs for the GOP as well.

  1. The first is the polls. Most high quality pollsters have sat out this election and while pollsters had better nights in Georgia, a majority were still off. Small Democratic leads in surveys mean even a small polling miss, which is likely one way or the other, could be determinative.
  2. Fundraising: Yes, yes. Democratic candidates are smashing records and because money is flowing to the candidates themselves they get better rates for TV and radio ads. But, the deluge of outside GOP money has basically meant both sides are airing almost an equal number of ads. All it is at this point is a difference in strategy. Further, at some point, outside money pouring into a race sees voters tune out its impact. Plus, no, outsider money flowing into a state does not equal voter enthusiasm within that state. If it did, Republicans would blow this race wide open.
  3. Prior election results matter: Last year, Perdue won 80K more votes than Ossoff. Republicans in the special election combined to give their candidates 52 percent compared to Democrats 48 percent. If we assume this pattern holds the GOP wins. If we further see some affluent, suburban whites splitting their votes again like they did in 2020 (voting for Biden but not voting downballot or for GOP Senate candidates) than the math becomes even harder for Democrats to overcome. Let’s keep in mind here, Democrats are the ones fighting to find additional votes. Republicans don’t have to find any though they certainly are trying and most certainly will.
  4. Early voting numbers: Republicans have reasons to cheer here as well. Why? The age of the electorate. Voters 56 and older have already cast 52.1 percent of early and absentee ballots in the runoff, according to data from the U.S. Elections Project, up from 45.5 percent in the general election. Further, the turnout rate for those 65 and older dwarfs every other group at 63 percent in the early in – person and absentee vote. Let’s keep in mind this group most strongly favored the GOP last November suggesting the older electorate the GOP needed to turn out is turning out.

Both sides have reasons to be optimistic tonight. Either way, it will be close. Happy election watching.

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