February 5, 2023

Sen. Raphael Warnock leads Herschel Walker in final week of Georgia Senate runoff

Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.) holds a slim lead in a new poll and has much more cash on hand as he seeks to put away Republican challenger Herschel Walker in their Georgia Senate runoff.

With just a week before the Dec. 6 runoff, Warnock has edged ahead of Walker on the heels of the only major poll taken since his narrow win in the Election Day contest. The survey commissioned by the AARP shows Warnock with a 51%-47% lead.

Sen. Raphael Warnock, left, Republican Senate candidate Herschel Walker.

Buoyed by his potent fund-raising operation, the incumbent Democrat also has nearly $30 million in his war chest for the stretch run, compared with less than $10 million for Walker.

Turnout so far has been very strong, with a record number of ballots cast in the first weekend of early voting for the runoff, although there are fewer days of early voting than in past contests.

The run off was required under Georgia law because neither candidate won 50% of the vote the first time around.

The big cash advantage could be a key boost for Warnock as analysts say turnout and get out the vote efforts aimed at the two men’s bases of support will likely spell the difference in the high stakes do-over election.

People gather during a get out the vote rally Sunday, Nov. 27, 2022, in Atlanta, during early voting for the Senate runoff election.

Warnock also could benefit from the fact that the Senate race is the only contest at stake next Tuesday. Walker ran far behind fellow Republicans such as Gov. Brian Kemp in the Election Day contest, suggesting a chunk of the GOP electorate may not turn out to support him in the runoff.

The retired football star has been dogged by a string of controversies, including credible claims by two ex-girlfriends that he got them to have abortions after impregnating them.

Walker is also suffering from a broader GOP enthusiasm gap after Democrats dramatically outperformed expectations nationwide in the midterms.

Georgia Republican Senate nominee Herschel Walker speaks during a campaign stop at Battle Lumber Company on Oct. 6, 2022, in Wadley, Ga.

President Biden’s party wrapped up control of the Senate with outright wins in other battleground states including Pennsylvania, Arizona and Nevada.

Those wins give Democrats at least 50 votes in the next Senate, with Vice President Kamala Harris available to cast a tie-breaking vote.

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