Over 1 million ballots cast already in early voting for Georgia's Senate runoffs


Early voting in Georgia’s runoff elections for U.S. Senate is moving at a brisk pace, signaling turnout could be surprisingly high in the Jan. 5 contest that will determine the balance of power in the Senate.

As of Tuesday morning, the eighth day of early voting, Georgia had received 620,472 absentee ballots by mail, according to state officials. By comparison, 765,643 absentee ballots were cast in the first week of early voting in Georgia for the Nov. 3 election.

With absentee in-person voting, the figures also are close, with more than 1 million cast that way so far. During the same period for the Nov. 3 election, just over 1.1 million mail-in ballots were cast.

Those are surprisingly high figures for runoffs, which traditionally see significantly lower turnouts than general elections.

Georgia voters will decide whether Republican Sens. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler return to Capitol Hill. They face Democratic challengers Jon Ossoff and the Rev. Raphael Warnock, respectively.

The GOP must win one of the runoffs to maintain its thin majority status in the Senate.

All told, there have now been 1.67 million votes cast in the runoffs. The November election, which saw record-shattering turnout in Georgia and many other states, had 1.9 million early votes cast and finished with slightly more than 5 million votes total.

Registration for the runoffs ended on Dec. 7, although all ballots will be accepted that arrive before 7 p.m. on Jan. 5.

Although President-elect Joseph R. Biden became the first Democrat to carry Georgia since 1992, polls show Georgians are completely divided in the runoffs.

Mr. Perdue clings to a 1-point lead over Ms. Ossoff in the Real Clear Politics polling average, a figure that incorporates a recent poll from the NBC affiliate in Atlanta that gives Mr. Ossoff a 5-point edge. That is the biggest margin of any of the five polls that comprise the average, and the other four all show Mr. Perdue with a small lead within the margin of error.

The race between Ms. Loeffler and Mr. Warnock appears even closer, with Ms. Loeffler’s lead less than 1 point. That RCP average is also skewed by the recent WXIA-TV/SurveyUSA poll that shows Mr. Warnock up by 7 points, which is the biggest spread in any of the five polls used and the only one that shows him ahead.

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