Runoff elections typically attract relatively reduced attention and accompanying turnout, but more than 4.4 million ballots were cast in Georgia’s Senate runoff elections, a massive, record-setting number, with African Americans and young voters constituting a significant surge in the unprecedented volume, which appear to have spurred the Democratic challengers to victory.
As of Wednesday afternoon, with 98% of the estimated vote total tabulated, 4,406,526 Georgians had voted.
That’s over 260,000 more votes than the number cast in Georgia in the 2016 presidential election (in the state’s last Senate runoff in 2008, less than half of that year’s general election voters cast a ballot in the runoff).
Nearly 90% of voters who participated in the 2020 presidential election in November, also voted in the runoff.
The previous runoff record had already been eclipsed before Election Day, as more than three million people cast their ballots via early voting, which began in mid-December.
Over 360,000 of those early voters were between the ages of 18 and 29, according to GeorgiaVotes.com.
Predominantly Black counties across rural Georgia experienced turnout that nearly matched the general election numbers and “margins that exceeded” what President-elect Joe Biden received when he defeated President Trump in the Peach State, according to the New York Times.
According to data from TargetSmart, a Democratic political data firm, nearly 50,000 Black Georgians voted early. “The Black vote delivered the U.S. Senate for Democrats,” said Tom Bonier, TargetSmart’s chief executive. Early exit polls taken Tuesday found that 93% of Black voters supported the Democratic candidates Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock. In comparison, 71% of white voters supported Republican Senators Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue. The New York Times reported that more than 75,000 new voters registered prior to the runoff elections, and more than 50% were under the age of 35.
Should he be officially declared the victor in his race against Perdue, Jon Ossoff, at 33, would be the youngest Democratic senator elected since 30-year-old Joe Biden defeated Republican Sen. J. Caleb Boggs in Delaware in 1973.
Last week, a political action committee called Georgia Balance spent $2.5 million hoping to convince Biden voters to cast a ballot for Loeffler and Perdue. The group has released a video ad in which a white woman explains that she is a mother of three and that although she voted for Biden, she says, “in the Senate runoff, I’m voting for David and Kelly,” adding, “We just need to take a breath. America needs balance.”
“For the longest time, my culture (felt) like we’ve been alienated from politics, and now we have a say,” said Atlanta-based rapper Jeezy. “At this point, we’re all into politics because it’s our world. If we don’t say anything or do anything, we get pushed to the wayside.”
23,000. That’s the number of Georgians who were too young to vote in November’s presidential election but qualified to do so in the runoffs.