Saturday September 18th, 2021 10:31AM

GEORGIA TAKEAWAYS: Black turnout fuels Warnock victory

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

ATLANTA (AP) — The Rev. Raphael Warnock, a Democrat, defeated Sen. Kelly Loeffler in Tuesday's special election for an unexpired term for a U.S. Senate seat in Georgia. Warnock will become the first Black senator in Georgia history. It remains too early to call the second race between Democrat Jon Ossoff and Republican David Perdue, who’s seeking a second term after his first term expired Sunday. Control of the Senate is in the balance.

Here are some key takeaways:


Warnock, senior pastor of the church where Martin Luther King Jr. preached through the height of the civil rights movement until his assassination, made history with a surge in Black turnout.

To be sure, a narrow win out of 4.4 million votes involves plenty of variables. But Black voters were a force in the early vote and on Election Day. Notably, it wasn’t just in metro Atlanta, but also in rural and small-town counties across South Georgia, where Black turnout has historically lagged.

That means it was an alliance spanning from the most affluent Black residents of Atlanta, including recent transplants to Georgia, to those Black Georgia natives who hail from the most economically depressed pockets of the state.

This election cycle saw a confluence of factors for Black voters: 2020 offered the first general election after the disappointment of Stacey Abrams’ narrowly missing out in 2018 on becoming the first Black female governor in U.S. history, and it was the first election after the death of Rep. John Lewis, Atlanta’s civil rights icon who once marched alongside King.

Loeffler and her Republican allies used the two-month runoff campaign to hammer Warnock with ads calling him “dangerous” and “radical.” They used snippets of his sermons from Ebenezer Baptist Church to accuse him of “hate speech” and “racial” divisiveness.

But Black voters can point to Tuesday’s vote count and take credit for that strategy ending in defeat.


When President-elect Joe Biden won Georgia by 12,000 votes out of 5 million, plenty of observers assumed it was about a backlash to President Donald Trump. That certainly had something to do with it. But following it up with one Senate runoff victory and potentially a second, Democrats proved its status as a two-party battleground going forward.


Trump may have lost the presidency, but his campaign to undermine the legitimacy of the election clearly succeeded with Republican voters in Georgia.

About three-quarters of voters who backed Perdue and Loeffler told the AP VoteCast survey that Biden was not legitimately elected in November. AP VoteCast interviewed more than 3,600 voters to measure the electorate’s views on a range of topics.

Roughly 9 in 10 of the Republicans’ backers said they lacked confidence that votes in November’s presidential contest were accurately counted. Half said they have no confidence at all in the vote count. That’s roughly five times as many Republicans who said in November they had no confidence that votes would be counted accurately.

That sentiment clearly tracks Trump’s false rhetoric about election fraud, a claim that has been rejected by Attorney General William Barr, dozens of federal courts and several prominent Republican senators. And the findings demonstrate Trump's continued hold on the Republican base, something his fellow GOP politicians will contend with even after he leaves office.


Even though it carried risk, Perdue, who is trying to win a second term, and Loeffler, an appointed senator trying to win her first election, tethered themselves to Trump every step of the campaign.

Democrats were running stronger in the early voting than they did in November, and that had Republicans nervous. Those worries followed weeks of Trump railing that Biden stole the election, spurring GOP fears that he’d drive some of his loyalists to skip the runoff out of protest while also repelling moderate and GOP-leaning independents in urban and suburban areas.

GOP strategists felt somewhat better Tuesday as they watched turnout in conservative counties and across the outer ring of metro Atlanta where Republicans still have troves of votes.

But Democratic turnout stayed strong, as well, with Fulton and DeKalb in the core of metro Atlanta on pace to nearly match or exceed their general election turnout. That makes a steep hill for Republicans in the newfound swing state.


Even with Trump's steady drumbeat of falsehoods about the voting process, state elections authorities and officials from both parties said Tuesday’s voting and the count appeared smooth. There were no reports of hourslong lines. Elections officials also took advantage of rules changes since November that allowed advance processing of absentee ballots — so they can be counted more quickly. As the count moved into Wednesday, Georgia officials seemed to be managing the process without major issues.


Trump endorsed Georgia’s Republican Gov. Brian Kemp during a contentious GOP primary in 2018, only to call him “incompetent” and promise to campaign against him in 2022 because he didn’t heed the president's demands to reverse Georgia's presidential results.

According to AP VoteCast, Republican voters are siding with Trump: About 6 in 10 approve of Kemp’s handling of the election aftermath. In November, AP VoteCast found about 9 in 10 Trump backers approved of Kemp’s overall job performance.

Kemp already was facing the prospect of a strong general election challenge from Abrams, the Democrat who is expected to seek a rematch of her 2018 loss. She would come into the race with a boost from all her voter registration work that paid off with Biden's and Warnock's wins. And now Kemp has to shore up his standing in his own party before thinking about Abrams or any Democrat.


Democrats seem to have had a broader reach than Republicans in contacting voters. About 6 in 10 voters say they were contacted on behalf of Democratic candidates, compared with about half for Republican candidates.

Democrats’ ground game may have helped them turn out voters. Overall, about 4 in 10 said they were contacted and responded with a pledge or commitment to vote. These voters were more likely to favor Ossoff and Warnock than Perdue and Loeffler.


AP VoteCast showed signs that newcomers to Georgia were more Democratic than longtime residents of the state. Those who have lived in the state for longer than 20 years leaned Republican, while those who have moved more recently favored Democrats.


Associated Press writers Josh Boak and Hannah Fingerhut in Washington and Kate Brumback in Atlanta contributed to this report.

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP National News, Top General short headlines, AP Online Headlines - Washington, AP Online Congress News, AP Elections, General Election News, General Presidential Election News, AP Online - Georgia News, AP Online Headlines - Georgia News, AP Elections - Political Conventions, AP Elections - Campaigns
© Copyright 2021
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Asia Today: Tokyo cases hit record as gov't mulls emergency
Tokyo is reporting a daily record of 1,591 coronavirus cases as the national government prepares to declare a state of emergency this week to cope with a new wave of infections
2:17AM ( 1 minute ago )
GEORGIA TAKEAWAYS: Black turnout fuels Warnock victory
The Rev. Raphael Warnock, a Democrat, has defeated Sen. Kelly Loeffler in a special election for an unexpired term for a U.S. Senate seat in Georgia
2:12AM ( 6 minutes ago )
Warnock makes history with Senate win as Dems near majority
Democrat Raphael Warnock has won one of Georgia’s two Senate runoffs, becoming the first Black senator in his state’s history and putting the Senate majority within the Democrats’ reach
2:06AM ( 11 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Congress set to confirm Biden's electoral win over Trump
President Donald Trump’s extraordinary effort to overturn the presidential election is going before Congress
12:57AM ( 1 hour ago )
EXPLAINER: What's behind N. Korea's biggest political event
North Korea has opened its biggest political event in five years amid what some experts see as the most fraught moment of leader Kim Jong Un’s nine-year rule
12:56AM ( 1 hour ago )
Republican Party faces defining moment under Trump's shadow
The Republican Party is facing a defining moment
12:55AM ( 1 hour ago )
AP National News
EXPLAINER: Why Trump's ballot 'dump' tweet is misleading
As votes were being tabulated in two tight Senate runoff elections in Georgia, President Donald Trump predicted election officials in the state would release a large tranche of results that would overwhelm the Republican candidates
11:48PM ( 2 hours ago )
GEORGIA TAKEAWAYS: Georgia is legit purple; Trump lingers
Ballots are still being counted in the Georgia runoffs that will determine control of the U.S. Senate and the scope of President-elect Joe Biden’s agenda
11:44PM ( 2 hours ago )
Georgia tallies votes as US Senate control hangs in balance
Georgia officials are counting the final votes of the nation’s turbulent 2020 election season as polls closed in two critical races that will determine control of the U.S. Senate and, in turn, the fate of President-elect Joe Biden’s legislative agenda
11:01PM ( 3 hours ago )
Top General short headlines
GOP's Biden vote revolt is atypical challenge for McConnell
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell thinks it’s dangerous for his party to challenge President-elect Joe Biden’s election triumph
1:02AM ( 1 hour ago )
The Latest: Warnock gives what amounts to victory speech
Democratic Senate candidate Raphael Warnock has given what amounts to a victory speech, saying he was honored by the faith that voters had shown in him and promising to work for all Georgians
12:55AM ( 1 hour ago )
Protesters backing Trump roll into capital to cheer him on
As Congress prepares to affirm President-elect Joe Biden's victory, hundreds of supporters of President Donald Trump are in Washington to cheer on the president's baseless claims of election fraud
12:53AM ( 1 hour ago )
AP Online Headlines - Washington
Reports: Dozens of Hong Kong pro-democracy figures arrested
An opposition party and local media say about 50 Hong Kong pro-democracy figures have been arrested by police under the new national security law
9:44PM ( 4 hours ago )
The Latest: China's Hebei toughens virus rules over outbreak
China’s Hebei province is enforcing stricter control measures following a further rise in coronavirus cases in the province, which is adjacent to the capital Beijing and is due to host events for next year’s Winter Olympics
9:19PM ( 4 hours ago )
The Latest: FBI probed bomb threat for Georgia polling site
The elections director for Georgia’s most populous county says a bomb threat targeting an Election Day polling place in Georgia’s most populous county was investigated last week by the FBI
9:09PM ( 5 hours ago )
AP Online Congress News
Loyal soldier Pence torn between Trump, Constitution
Vice President Mike Pence has been President Donald Trump’s most loyal soldier, dutifully backing the unpredictable leader through one chaotic situation after another
8:16PM ( 6 hours ago )
The Latest: Ossoff stops by polling site before closing time
Democratic Senate candidate Jon Ossoff stopped by a polling location in Atlanta just before polls closed to encourage voters to remain in line to cast a ballot
8:03PM ( 6 hours ago )
The Latest: GOP initially failed to credential poll watchers
A Georgia election official says the state Republican Party initially failed to properly credential its poll watchers on time in the state’s most populous county, but the problem was sorted out in time for Election Day
7:58PM ( 6 hours ago )
AP Elections
Georgia deciding US Senate control in election's final day
Georgians are casting their ballots in two critical races that will determine control of the U.S. Senate and, in turn, the fate of President-elect Joe Biden’s legislative agenda
6:01PM ( 8 hours ago )
The Latest: Ga. Public Broadcasting denied GOP party access
Georgia Public Broadcasting says its reporters have been denied access to the Georgia GOP’s election night watch party
5:50PM ( 8 hours ago )
EXPLAINER: Why Georgia won't affect Electoral College count
The outcomes of two Senate contests in Georgia will have no bearing on the certification of Electoral College results in Congress as Republicans allied with President Donald Trump try to undo Democrat Joe Biden’s victory
4:51PM ( 9 hours ago )
General Election News
Biden, Trump warn of high stakes of Georgia Senate runoffs
President-elect Joe Biden on Monday told Georgia Democrats they had the power to “chart the course” for a generation as President Donald Trump urged Republican voters to “swamp” the polls ahead of runoff elections that will determine control of the U.S. Senate
11:07PM ( 1 day ago )
Pence, Biden warn of high stakes of Georgia Senate runoffs
President-elect Joe Biden is telling Georgia voters that he needs a Democratic Senate majority to combat the coronavirus and get other things done
7:51PM ( 1 day ago )
AP Elections - Campaigns
Warnock makes history with Senate win as Dems near majority
Democrat Raphael Warnock has won one of Georgia’s two Senate runoffs, becoming the first Black senator in his state’s history and putting the Senate majority within the Democrats’ reach
2:06AM ( 12 minutes ago )
Democrat Warnock wins Senate race; 2nd too early to call
Democrat Raphael Warnock has won one of Georgia’s two Senate runoffs, becoming the first Black senator in his state’s history and putting the Senate majority within the Democrats’ reach
2:02AM ( 16 minutes ago )
Georgia tallying final votes in key Senate runoff elections
Candidates are locked in tight races as Georgia officials tallied the final votes in two critical Senate elections that will determine control of the U.S. Senate and, in turn, the fate of President-elect Joe Biden’s legislative agenda
1:52AM ( 26 minutes ago )
About 50 Hong Kong activists arrested under new security law
Hong Kong police have arrested about 50 former lawmakers and activists in the largest move against the city's pro-democracy movement since a national security law was imposed last June
1:39AM ( 38 minutes ago )
No charges against Wisconsin officer who shot Jacob Blake
A Wisconsin prosecutor has declined to file criminal charges against a white police officer who shot a Black man in the back last summer
1:38AM ( 40 minutes ago )