Georgia runoff: Here are the six counties that will decide if Warnock or Walker wins runoff

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Herschel Walker and Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-GA) (AP/Brynn Anderson/John Bazemore)

Georgia runoff: Here are the six counties that will decide if Warnock or Walker wins runoff

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As voters head to the polls on Tuesday for the runoff election between Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-GA) and Republican Herschel Walker that will determine the balance of power in the Senate, the consequential race could come down to party turnout in just a handful of counties.

Experts are keeping an eye on Republican versus Democratic turnout in six key counties as campaigns must overcome possible voter fatigue and a shorter time frame to rouse their bases. Candidates must also grapple with waning motivation as Democrats have already secured a Senate majority, meaning voters may view the election as less consequential than November’s race.

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“If there is anything to look at, I would be paying attention to if we see anemic turnout in traditionally Republican areas versus anemic turnout in traditionally Democratic areas because whichever group has the most anemic turnout is probably going to be the side that loses,” Andra Gillespie, a political science professor at Emory University, told the Hill. 

Warnock and Walker advanced to the Dec. 6 runoff after neither candidate garnered more than 50% of the vote during the general election, per state law. Now, the fight is on to claim the Senate seat and finalize the makeup of the upper chamber for the next Congress.

Walker faces increased challenges this time, as he doesn’t have Gov. Brian Kemp (R-GA) on the ballot to help lure GOP voters to the polls. That could prove challenging for the Republican candidate, as roughly 203,000 voters cast a ballot for Kemp’s reelection in November but didn’t vote for Walker.

“I think the question for Democrats or Republicans is how do you get back those people who voted for Brian Kemp but could not or would not vote for Herschel Walker?” Gillespie told the outlet. “And I think the challenge for Republicans is you can’t make the argument that control of the Senate is up for grabs.”

For Democrats, it’s essential for the party to win DeKalb, Fulton, and Clayton counties as the areas lean heavily Democratic and have become reliable strongholds for the party in recent years. Each of the counties is located close to the Atlanta area and has large black populations, according to the Census Bureau.

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Meanwhile, Republicans are courting voters in the Cherokee, Forsyth, and Hall counties, which all sit close to each other and hold majority white populations. The counties overwhelmingly voted in favor of Kemp in the November elections, giving the GOP an edge if it can manage a high turnout.

Recent polling showed Warnock with a slight edge over Walker, leading his Republican challenger by only 2 percentage points, according to a survey by Emerson College conducted during the last week of November.

Although Democrats have already clinched 50 seats in the Senate, giving them power thanks to Vice President Kamala Harris’s tiebreaking vote, a win in Georgia would give the party more breathing room.

© 2022 Washington Examiner

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