When no candidate receives a majority of votes in a Georgia general election, a runoff between the top two vote-getters is required. The runoff U.S. Senate race between incumbent Sen. Raphael Warnock and his challenger Herschel Walker will be contested on December 6, 2022, with early voting starting November 28.
Of course, Georgia had two U.S. Senate runoffs in January 2021. Control of the chamber was at-stake and Democrats won both races to force a 50-50 tie and ultimately gain control of the Senate following Joe Biden’s inauguration on January 20.
This time, Democrats, with 50 seats secure, have already retained command of Congress’s top chamber and are looking to gain a seat.
Warnock vs Walker prediction
Prior to the 2022 midterms, we predicted Sen. Warnock would defeat Walker by 2 percentage points in the general election. And thus far, with 99 percent of the votes counted, Warnock, who was the underdog in some polls, seems poised to defeat the former football star by a single percentage point.
2022 Georgia U.S. Senate General Election Results
(Est 99 percent of the votes counted)
Raphael Warnock 49.4%
Herschel Walker 48.5%
Chase Oliver 2.1%
In the runoff, we, again, predict Warnock will win by two percentage points but wouldn’t be surprised if he won by more.
Warnock vs Walker runoff prediction
And while winning by two points may not seem like much, that margin would be nothing less than a decisive victory given the closeness of Georgia’s races lately and the political climate there and across the country. Keep in mind, in 2020 President Biden carried the state by only 0.23 percent (around 11,000 votes).
Why the Warnock prediction?
Democrats performed far better in the 2022 midterms than most expected. Although Republicans narrowly won the House of Representatives, the overall vibe, on both sides of the aisle, suggests the Democrats lost the battle but won the war that was Election 2022.
Not unlike in the post-2020 election runoffs, Democrats, again, have a momentum advantage. In last year’s runoff races, both Democrats, Jon Ossoff and Warnock, not only defeated their Republican opponents but FAR outperformed Joe Biden’s general election numbers in Georgia.
This year, motivated Democrats in Georgia will, again, show they want it more than their fellow GOP statesmen.
Let’s not forget that Republicans controlled their own fate last year. They only needed to win one of the two Georgia runoffs to keep the Senate – And they failed both times.
Given that Republicans didn’t rise to the occasion last year when they controlled their destiny in the Senate, how motivated will they be to vote this year with control of the upper chamber out of reach?
2. No other big races
In the general election, Walker ran strong because other high-profile races were at stake, including Georgia’s big governor’s race. Conservatives turned out in droves to re-elect Governor Brian Kemp and many of them produced a straight Republican ticket. Hence, Georgia Republican candidates were able to ride Kemp’s coattails a bit.
… But Kemp won’t be on the December 6 ticket so don’t look for voter participation to be nearly as high as it was in the general election; Especially among Republicans.
3. He’s terrible
Let’s keep it real. Walker ran a lousy campaign and continues to look woefully out of his element. He doesn’t know the first thing about governance and the political system and is not a candidate anyone would be excited about.
4. Republicans sent a clear message in the general election
Herschel was competitive last week, receiving 48.5 percent of the vote. However, Governor Kemp, a Republican on the same ballot, got a whopping 53.4 percent. Hence, tens and thousands of Kemp’s supporters, whether conservative or moderate, opted to not support Walker.
A lot of Republicans in Georgia simply think he’s too right-wing and not reflective of their views… And, of course, he’s not exactly a “quality candidate.”
Chase Oliver, a Libertarian, received 2.1 percent of the vote and finished third last week. And yes, Libertarians usually prefer Republicans to Democrats. And yes, Walker would have won if Oliver’s supporters had gotten behind the college football legend.
My guess is the vast majority of Oliver’s supporters will sit this one out. However, if Walker can a) succeed in making a direct, positive appeal to them and b) energize them enough to get out the vote, things could get interesting.
Last week’s general Georgia U.S. Senate midterm election will finish with Warnock about 36,000 or 37,000 votes ahead of Walker. And that difference is certainly not insurmountable. After all, we don’t know how many of Warnock’s supporters will vote again in the runoff. Nevertheless, Walker starts at a near-40K deficit and that’s a fairly significant gap when your opponent’s party already has a momentum advantage, you’ve arguably run one of the worst U.S. Senate campaigns in the past 100 years, and there will be no big names on the ballot for you to piggyback off.
Warnock simply has much more in his favor. And heading into the Georgia U.S. Senate runoff on December 6, he’ll be in a better position than he was in last week’s general election.
Please share your Warnock vs Walker run-off prediction below.