Warnock Leads, Obama Mocks, but Walker Stays Close

The Georgia Senate runoff is tight ahead of Tuesday
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 2, 2022 8:56 AM CST
Warnock Leads, Obama Mocks, but Walker Stays Close
Republican candidate for U.S. Senate Herschel Walker takes photos with supporters during a campaign rally Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2022 in Greensboro, Ga. Walker is in a runoff election with incumbent Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock. AP Photo/John Bazemore)   (Associated Press)

To the surprise of no one, the Senate race between Raphael Warnock and Herschel Walker remains extremely tight days ahead of their Tuesday runoff election in Georgia. A CNN poll of likely voters out Friday gives Democratic incumbent Warnock a 52-48 lead over the former football star, a single point above the poll's 3-point margin of error. The poll average at Real Clear Politics has Warnock up by a slightly smaller margin of 3.3 points.

  • Record voting: Early voting began Monday, and the Wall Street Journal reports that daily records were being smashed, with 300,000 or more voters turning out on individual days. As of Wednesday evening, more than 1 million of the state's 7 million registered voters had participated in the runoff through early voting or absentee ballots.

  • Walker's pace: The New York Times reports that Republicans aren't thrilled that Walker took five days off from campaigning around Thanksgiving. “I think we’re behind the eight ball on this one,” Jason Shepherd, former chairman of the Cobb County Republican Party, tells the newspaper. However, the story makes clear that nobody is counting Walker out because of the issue.
  • Factors: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has a big-picture look at the challenges both candidates face. Because Democrats already have clinched the Senate, Walker has lost the compelling argument to Republicans that a vote for him would give the GOP control of the chamber. And in the general election, he lagged GOP Gov. Brian Kemp's winning total by 200,000 votes, meaning he must get swing voters to back him. Warnock, meanwhile, must fight Democratic voter fatigue: He's been on the ballot no fewer than five times since November 2020 for the same Senate position.
  • Independents: In the CNN poll, 99% of Democrats back Warnock and 95% of Republicans back Walker. So how are those crucial independent voters leaning? Toward Warnock, by 61-36. However, they make up a relatively small 17% of likely voters overall. A crucial factor Tuesday might be which party can better motivate their voters to come out.
  • Obama mockery: Former President Obama spoke at a Warnock rally Thursday night and mocked Walker. "Since the last time I was here, Mr. Walker has been talking about issues that are of great importance to the people of Georgia," said Obama, per the Hill. "Like whether it’s better to be a vampire or a werewolf." He added: "This is a debate that I must confess I once had myself ... when I was 7. Then I grew up." (Walker has indeed spoken of vampires, though he says he did so in the context of his religious faith. PolitiFact has the details.)

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