Warnock claims momentum in Georgia as Walkerbanks turn out strong on Election Day

ATLANTA — On the final day before Georgia’s Senate runoff, Sen. Raphael Warnock implored supporters to ignore pundits predicting his victory and instead “act like an emergency” in a close contest for the midterm election cycle. same” vote.

His Republican challenger, Herschel Walker, a former football star recruited by former President Donald J. Trump, toured the northern Georgia county, which he easily won a month ago, urging Republicans to avoid early voting. Democrats go to the polls on Tuesday. “The vote must be withdrawn,” he said.

These two men are facing off in an election of great symbolic and practical importance. A victory for Warnock would give Democrats their 51st vote in the Senate, a party that has relied on Vice President Kamala Harris to break a 50-50 tie for the past two years. If Mr. Walker wins, Republicans would maintain joint control of the Senate committees, while two centrist Democratic senators, Joe Manchin III of West Virginia and Kirsten Sinema of Arizona, would Maintain an effective veto on all legislation in the Senate.

But broader political interests matter just as much. Democrats believe a victory would demonstrate that they have turned Georgia into an undisputed battleground, herald a new era of Sun Belt politics and reshape their strategy for winning the White House. A victory for Walker would reaffirm Republican dominance in the state after a deeply troubled campaign and Republican sweeps in statewide races this year.

And for Mr. Trump launched his third presidential campaign three weeks ago, and Tuesday’s campaign represented his last chance to win on the battlefield of one of his closest political aides.

More than $380 million has been spent on the race, the most of any election this year, according to OpenSecrets, a group that tracks political money. The runoff was triggered when neither candidate received 50 percent of the vote in last month’s general election.

The number of early voters has exceeded 1.89 million, about half of the number who voted on November 11. 8. Both campaigns believe the group is heavily skewed toward the Democrats. Republicans engage and align with Mr. That skew left candidates needing to win about 60 percent of the live vote on Tuesday to catch up, Walker acknowledged. He won 56 percent of the vote on Election Day in November, according to the Georgia Secretary of State’s office.

“Herschel Walker still has a way to win this race — he still has the potential to win,” Mr Bush said. Warnock told reporters after speaking with supporters at Georgia Tech on Monday. “We had a huge lead during the general. So we know people behave differently when they vote in this state. So if there’s anything I’m worried about, it’s that people will think we don’t need their voices. We Indeed.”

In some ways, Mr. Walker is running a final day of voting, ripped from a past generation when the vast majority of votes were still cast in person on Election Day. gentlemen. Warnock, who also won the runoff two years ago, has adapted to the modern voting model and Georgia’s voting rules, which allow voting to take place a week earlier.

Recent events in Mr Warnock have made it difficult for him to find supporters who have to wait until Tuesday to vote. When asked who voted early, nearly everyone at the college and black church stations over the past two days raised their hands.

I’ve been preaching long enough that I know I’m preaching to the choir,” Ebenezer Baptist Church pastor Warnock said Sunday at a black church in Athens.

When a food-delivery app driver delivered sandwiches for Warnock’s campaign at a Georgia Tech event on Monday, a pair of feisty volunteers pressed him to see if he had voted. (He didn’t, and said he wasn’t sure Tuesday would be.)

“This is a last-ditch effort to Build enthusiasm and momentum on Election Day.” “We want to mobilize as much energy as possible to vote to reach people who might not hear the campaign.”

November, sir. Warnock leads Trump by 37,700 votes. Walker threw nearly four million. gentlemen. Warnock consolidated Democratic voters, while Mr. Walker worked hard to rally his party behind him.

Mr. Walker’s final rally on Monday was held at a gun range in Kennesaw, a conservative suburb about 45 minutes from Atlanta, where the former governor was. Nikki Haley of South Carolina spoke to about 100 supporters. She encouraged them to come out and vote, and to get others to vote.

“There’s no red wave. There’s either turnout or there’s no turnout,” she said, adding that she asked Mr. Walker loaded his campaign bus with voters and took them to the polls.

“We can show America that we are about to right the ship.”

In the runoff, black voters were the segment that overwhelmingly rejected Mr Trump. Walker’s bid represented about 32 percent of early voters, 6 percentage points higher than in the November election.

“I come from a family where we all voted early,” said Jordan Artis, a 21-year-old international affairs student at Georgia Tech who waited 80 minutes to vote before coming to see Mr. Trump last week. Warnock Monday. Her good friend, ma’am. Artis said a vote had already been cast.

While his advisers and allies are quietly lowering expectations, Mr. Walker said Monday he felt “very good” when he shook hands and posed for photos with voters at a popular diner in the Atlanta suburb of Flowery Branch. 8 votes.

Later, he delivered an unusually brief address — without his trademark tirade — to a crowd of about 75 supporters at a vineyard in Gilmer County, another Republican stronghold.

“Tomorrow is a big day,” he said, asking about the panel that voted. Two-thirds of the crowd raised their hands. “That’s what we have to do — we have to vote.”

gentlemen. On Monday, Walker supporters stopped worrying about severe weather — rain was forecast for the Atlanta area and North Georgia on Tuesday — or that low energy would reduce turnout on Election Day.

“I’m very encouraged. I think he understands that,” said Judy Shinall, 77, a Walker supporter in Acworth. Mrs. Shinall acknowledged the party had underperformed at key moments, most recently two years ago when Mr. Warnock won the special election runoff. “Republicans sometimes, you know, don’t come forward. It’s critical. Tomorrow will be,” she said.

gentlemen. Walker is wrapping up a campaign that appears to have failed to solidify different wings of his party. He pushed hard toward the party’s Trump-aligned base, pushing back moderates in the coalition pushing for the gubernatorial election. Republican Brian Kemp won.

gentlemen. Walker has been hit with damaging headlines throughout the campaign, including accusations of physical abuse by women he dated and married. Two other ex-girlfriends said he urged them to have abortions despite his opposition to them. (Mr. Walker has denied the claim.) He lived in Texas for decades before moving back to Georgia when he began his campaign, and he also faces questions about his residency.

gentlemen. Kemp kept his distance from Mr. Walker during the election. But in the runoff, he turned over his political activism to help, recording a TV ad and appearing alongside Trump at a campaign event. walker.

Other Republicans never joined. In recent days, Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan of Georgia has not sought re-election this year after repeatedly berating Trump. Trump’s effort to overturn the results of Georgia’s 2020 presidential election has gone on a media tour, explaining why he stood in an early voting line for an hour but then declined to vote for Mr. Trump. walker.

“I think Herschel Walker could end up being one of the worst Republican candidates in the history of our party,” Mr.duncan told cbs news In an interview that aired on Tuesday.

The runoff was based on new voting rules drafted by Republican state lawmakers in Georgia and signed into law by Trump. camp. Following the victory of Mr. Warnock and Mr. Ossoff in January 2021, Georgia law now prohibits new voter registration between the general election and the runoff election.

Republicans also cut the time between campaigns in half, limited early voting and made it harder to vote by mail, among other restrictions on mail-in ballots and drop boxes.

Some Republican voters expressed confusion over the rules of the runoff.

David Mathews, 74, a retired oil company manager, was having breakfast with his fiancé and friends at the Flowery Branch restaurant. Walker, who began his campaign on Monday, said he was unaware that his polling place was open for early voting that ended Friday.

“They don’t have a sign,” he said, before eating biscuits and bacon gravy. gentlemen. Matthews said he plans to vote for Trump on Tuesday. walker.

gentlemen. Warnock’s campaign and his allies have spent millions to push supporters back to the polls. “One more time, Georgia,” screamed his ads on billboards and mobile phones, urging supporters to vote for him early. In the final hours of the campaign, he acknowledged that his supporters may have been exhausted.

“I know you may be tired,” he said at a black church in Athens on Sunday night. “I’ll be tired too.”

Reed Epstein Reports from Atlanta and Athens, Jasmine Ulloa from Flowery Branch, and mayan king From Ellijay.

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