Where Things Stand in GA and What to Expect

With polls in Georgia closing in a few hours, where do things stand? 

Even before Election Day, we saw historic turnout for a runoff election. More than 3,000,000 Georgians already cast their ballots early, led by a surge in African-American turnout.   

Democrats can certainly win both seats, but the results will be decided by Election Day turnout and we may not know the final results for days or weeks (remember Joe Biden carried the state by fewer than 12,000 votes and it took major outlets two weeks to call the state).   

Here’s what we know based on the near-final early vote data:  

Democrats improved upon their general election early vote share by 2.8 points based on modeled partisanship. In terms of raw votes, the Democratic margin based on modeled party is approximately 206,000 votes. By comparison, in the General Election, Perdue ran 88,000 votes ahead of Osoff.   

How have Democrats built an advantage in the early vote?   

The simple answer is historic turnout from African-American voters. African-Americans increased their share of the early vote by 2.9 points relative to the General Election. White college-educated voters increased by 0.2 points. Meanwhile, white non-college turnout (i.e. Republican base) has lagged by 1.8 points.   

Of the 115,000 voters who didn't vote in the general and early voted in the runoff, 40% are African-American. Few groups have endured more severe voter suppression than Black voters in Georgia. It’s clear that winning in November didn't erase that suppression but proved that their votes matter.  

It's important to note that, while AAPI and Latino turnout is lagging incrementally behind their huge early vote shares from the general, they are still outperforming their turnout shares from every previous election in GA. Democrats will need more of them to come out today to carry the Senate.  

From a perspective of age, youth turnout has been up and down. It lags the General Election vote share, but that's deceiving. African American, AAPI, and white college educated youth shares are up, while white non-college turnout lags badly. The younger Democratic voters are showing up.  

The bottom line is that Republicans find themselves in a deeper hole heading into this  Election Day, than they dug for themselves in the General Election. There are a few possible explanations. Only one explanation will give the GOP hope.  

First, the GOP hasn't proven they can turn their voters out without Trump on the ballot. They lagged in turnout in the 2018 Midterms and got swamped. That could be one reason GOP turnout hasn't kept up with Democrats in the early vote.  

Second, the GOP base could be depressed by the post-election hysterics from Trump. They've been told, repeatedly, that the GOP establishment isn't doing enough to save their President. A President who called this election "illegal and invalid." That's not great motivation.  

Finally, the GOP has to hope that the reason they've trailed Democrats so badly in the early vote is that more of their voters are simply shifting from early-in-person voting to Election Day voting. That’s possible - and we’ll know for sure soon enough.