Georgia’s Senate race between Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-GA) and Republican Herschel Walker is heading to a runoff for the second election in a row. Here is how the runoff system in the Peach State works.
The runoff was triggered after no candidate reached above 50% of the total vote in the Senate race, something that happened in the special election that gave Warnock his Senate seat in January 2021.
When will the runoff be?
The runoff is scheduled to be held on Tuesday, Dec. 6, and early voting in the election is set to begin on Monday, Nov. 14, per the Georgia secretary of state.
Who has the edge in the runoff?
Historically, Republicans have had the advantage in runoff races in Georgia, with GOP candidates winning seven of 11 runoffs since the 1960s, per FiveThirtyEight. The website attributes better Republican performance to turnout being lower in runoff elections.
Despite the high success rate by the GOP, the two most recent races to go to a runoff led to Democrats winning, when Democrat Jon Ossoff and Warnock beat their Republican opponents in runoff Senate elections held on Jan. 5, 2021.
Why does Georgia have a runoff system?
Georgia implemented the system in the 1960s, with the system having roots in white Democrats wanting to stay in power and keep black voters from the ballot box, per the Washington Post.
Do any other states have runoff systems?
Yes, 10 other states have runoffs for primary or general elections.
Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, and Vermont have various types of runoffs in their primary elections but not in the general election.
Louisiana has a unique runoff system. In the Bayou State, a primary election is held with all candidates, and if one receives more than 50% of the vote, he or she wins the election. A runoff is triggered if a candidate fails to receive a majority in the primary election. In the Peach State, each party has its own primary, and in the general election, if a candidate fails to get more than 50%, it goes to a runoff.
Warnock and Walker have been locked in a tight battle for the Senate seat in Georgia, with both candidates having their fair share of controversies. With a few key Senate races still outstanding, the runoff could determine the majority party in the Senate, just as the Georgia runoffs did in 2021.