Early voting turnout breaks records in Georgia's Senate runoff election
ATLANTA - Georgia set records and made history during November’s elections, but by the looks of early voting for the Senate runoffs, the state is about to do it again.
It's not every day the balance of power in the Senate relies on one state, let alone with two seats up for grabs.
Politicos said every Georgia voter is aware of that and what is known about the election so far indicates these races are bringing people to the polls in a way they never have for a Georgia runoff before.
Early voting for the U.S. Senate races ended this week with a record three million early voters.
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Niles Francis, a rising politico whose work has been seen in a multitude of political outlets said that's more than Georgia's past several runoff elections, and speaks to the weight of the Senate seats at stake.
"Usually runoffs tend to be older and whiter less diverse," he said.
That's not the case this year. According to data from the political tracking website Georgia Votes, the minority vote-- specifically among African Americans-- is already up for the runoff compared to November's election.
"About 27% of the electorate was African American in the general election," Francis said.
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"That number is [now] at 31%," he said. "Right now it looks like African Americans will make up a higher share of the vote than they did in the gen election. On paper, you would think that that would help the democrats, but we don't know exactly what turnout will be like on election day if-- let's say rural turnout is huge on election day."
Francis said turnout from Georgia's most recent runoffs highlights the heightened interest in the current races.
He cites numbers from 1992.
"In the general election that year 2.3 million Georgians voted in that election, in the general election-- in the runoff, 1.3 million voted in the runoff," he said.
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After Democrats changed runoff rules from 50% of the vote to 45% and Republicans changed it back in the mid-2000s, numbers trailed again as Saxby Chambliss was forced into a runoff for his Senate seat.
"In the 2008 General Election, 3.8 million Georgians voted. In the runoff election, 2.1 million Georgians voted. As you can see, there's a huge drop off in these elections every time there is one," he said.
Early voting data shows a larger turnout in counties that tend to vote Democratic, but Republicans could cover a lot of ground with in-person voting Tuesday. For example, Senator Perdue earned 60% of in-person votes during the election on November 3.
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