According to a Georgia election official, turnout was around 4.3 million. That includes 2,054,776 early votes, 1,244,374 election day votes and 995,410 absentee-by-mail votes.
A win for Warnock would represent a win for the religious left, a group that has tried mightily to assert itself as the religious right has consolidated power in the Trump era.
With Georgia’s tight Senate races yet uncalled, state elections officials believe that the remaining outstanding votes come mostly from Democratic-leaning counties.
As the Democrats Jon Ossoff and the Rev. Raphael Warnock inched closer to flipping Georgia’s two Senate seats from the incumbent Republicans, credit began to flow to one person broadly acknowledged as being most responsible for Georgia’s new status as a Democratic state: Stacey Abrams.
Ms. Abrams, the former minority leader of the Georgia state House, has spent a decade building a Democratic political infrastructure in the state, first with her New Georgia Project and now with Fair Fight, the voting rights organization she founded in the wake of her losing campaign for governor in 2018.
Late Tuesday night, Ms. Abrams came close to declaring victory in a tweet that praised the thousands of “organizers, volunteers, canvassers & tireless groups” who helped rebuild the state’s Democratic Party from the rump it was when she became the state House minority leader in 2011.
With new votes joining the tally, we are on a strong path. But even while we wait for more, let’s celebrate the extraordinary organizers, volunteers, canvassers & tireless groups that haven’t stopped going since Nov. Across our state, we roared. A few miles to go…but well done!
— Stacey Abrams (@staceyabrams) January 6, 2021
While Ms. Abrams is widely expected to run for governor again in 2022, she is at the moment one of the most influential American politicians not in elected office. It was her political infrastructure and strategy of increasing turnout among the state’s Black, Latino and Asian voters that laid the groundwork for both President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s victory in November and the Democrats’ performance in the Senate races.
And when it came time to cut a TV ad urging Georgians to confirm the status of their absentee ballots — voters have until Friday to cure absentee ballots that contain minor errors — it was Ms. Abrams who appeared in the ad reminding them how to do so.
“Don’t wait,” she said. “Your vote has the power to determine the future of Georgia and our country. It’s time to make certain your voice is heard.”
The Rev. Raphael Warnock has told church members that if he wins, he intends to keep his position preaching at Ebenezer Baptist in Atlanta, one of the world’s most famous pulpits.
DeKalb County, a Democratic stronghold near Atlanta, just reported a large batch of votes, moving the Rev. Raphael Warnock into the lead over Senator Kelly Loeffler and putting Jon Ossoff a fraction of a percentage point behind David Perdue.
Mr. Warnock is now ahead by about 35,000 votes, or over three-quarters of a percentage point, while Mr. Ossoff trails by several hundred votes. He is likely to move ahead of Mr. Perdue as more ballots are counted.
The latest batch — more than 150,000 votes — was a majority of the roughly 171,000 early votes that Georgia election officials had said remained to be counted in DeKalb County. (There was, briefly, some confusion when a county official told CNN that the number was 117,000; a top state election official, Gabriel Sterling, subsequently confirmed that the county official had accidentally transposed the 1 and the 7.)
In addition to the roughly 19,000 early votes now remaining, Mr. Sterling said DeKalb County still had about 12,000 election day votes left to count. He also said there were roughly 7,000 early votes left in Coffee County, which is heavily Republican.
Beyond that, DeKalb County and Fulton County — which includes large parts of Atlanta and, like DeKalb, is heavily Democratic — still need to count mail-in ballots that they received on Tuesday.
Statewide, about 95 percent of all votes have been counted, and most of the remaining 5 percent are in Democratic areas, making both Mr. Warnock and Mr. Ossoff favorites to win their races.
On the question of when the count will be complete, Mr. Sterling said that lunchtime on Wednesday was “a rational estimate given the situation we’ve seen right now,” and praised the election officials working late into the night amid the vitriol and false charges of voter fraud advanced by President Trump and his supporters.
“These thousands of election workers have been working diligently for a free and fair election for the people of Georgia,” Mr. Sterling said.
Georgia election officials have suggested we may not know final numbers until midday tomorrow, right around the time when Congress is scheduled to certify the presidential election. (Maybe get some rest?)
Loeffler and Perdue stood side by side a lot, but to Georgians they’re quite different. To begin with, he’s from there; she’s not.
With both Georgia races still too close to call, one of President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s top advisers appeared to have seen enough — if not to outright call the race in one Democrat’s favor, then at least to denounce his Republican opponent.
In a pointed tweet, Ron Klain, the incoming White House chief of staff, suggested that Senator Kelly Loeffler had hurt her chances in the race against the Rev. Raphael Warnock by aligning herself with President Trump’s efforts to overturn the presidential election. Ms. Loeffler said on Monday that she planned to vote against the Electoral College certification process, joining a chorus of Republican senators in voting to overturn electors for Mr. Biden.
“Spitballing here, but it may be that telling voters that you intend to ignore their verdict and overturn their votes from the November election was NOT a great closing argument for @KLoeffler,” Mr. Klain wrote shortly before 11 p.m.
The New York Times’s needle is showing that Mr. Warnock is “very likely” to defeat Ms. Loeffler.
Should Mr. Warnock and Jon Ossoff, the other Democrat running, both win their races, Democrats would take control of the Senate, with Vice President-elect Kamala Harris serving as the chamber’s tiebreaking vote.
Though Ossoff trails Perdue by about 10,000 votes, the couple of counties with outstanding votes, DeKalb and Cobb, are Dem strongholds. Ossoff is ahead of his November margins in both.
“If they win, I’ll get no credit,” Trump predicted of Republicans last night. “If they lose, they’re gonna blame Trump.” Given Georgia’s political shift in the Trump era, he’s probably onto something.
Ossoff trails while Warnock leads. In the campaign, Warnock went out of his way to offer Ossoff his coattails, calling him “my brother from another mother.”
The Rev. Raphael Warnock has taken the lead over Senator Kelly Loeffler by about 32,000 votes. Jon Ossoff narrowly trails David Perdue.
See the forecast
Perdue is leading by 120,000 votes. But state election official Gabriel Sterling says DeKalb County has 171,000 votes to upload. Those will skew heavily to the Democrats.
A surge in turnout from Georgia’s Black voters has powered the fortunes of the Rev. Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff, putting the Democrats within reach of flipping two Senate seats and winning control of the chamber.
Predominantly Black counties across rural Georgia have had turnout for Mr. Warnock and Mr. Ossoff that nearly matched the Nov. 3 general election and margins that exceeded what President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. received when he defeated President Trump in the state.
In Calhoun County, which is 61 percent Black and where most ballots had been counted late Tuesday, Mr. Warnock was ahead by 19 percentage points out of 2,031 votes cast and Mr. Ossoff had an edge of 18 points, compared with Mr. Biden’s 15 percent margin out of 2,198 votes in November.
In Clay, Macon, Randolph and Washington Counties, all small, rural, predominantly Black counties, Mr. Ossoff and Mr. Warnock won larger margins than Mr. Biden did with turnout that nearly reached the November figures — an extraordinary feat given the nature of the runoffs.
Some of Georgia’s largest counties in metropolitan Atlanta, which is home to the state’s largest concentration of Black voters, have yet to report a majority of their votes, though they are expected to soon.
Data from TargetSmart, a Democratic political data firm, found that nearly 50,000 Black Georgians had cast early ballots in the Senate runoffs after not voting in the Nov. 3 general election.
Scores of grass-roots organizations worked to turn out Black voters in the lead-up to the runoffs, and on a campaign swing last weekend, Vice President-elect Kamala Harris targeted Black neighborhoods where early-voting turnout had been soft.
“The Black vote delivered the U.S. Senate for Democrats,” said Tom Bonier, the chief executive of TargetSmart.
Trump tweeted a false suggestion that Democrats were “waiting to see how many votes they need.” His claim was particularly baffling since he pressed Georgia officials for just enough votes to overturn his loss.
David Perdue has collected 15,000 more votes than his fellow Republican Kelly Loeffler, whose favorable ratings also lag Mr. Perdue’s in voter surveys.
The Democrats now appear favored to prevail in both of their Senate races in Georgia, and therefore are the favorites to take control of the U.S. Senate. The two Republican candidates hold small leads in the vote count, and still have a chance to hold onto those advantages, but most of the remaining vote is in Democratic-leaning areas.
The largest block of remaining ballots is the in-person vote in DeKalb County, a heavily Democratic area that includes part of Atlanta. Over all, the two Democratic candidates are favored to win the remaining vote by around nine percentage points, according to Upshot estimates.
Democrats benefited from strong turnout among Black voters, who are on track to represent a much larger share of the electorate than they did in the general election, based on the turnout by precinct and early voting data.
With 5 percent of the vote left to count, the Rev. Raphael Warnock’s projected lead over Senator Kelly Loeffler is larger than Jon Ossoff’s projected lead over David Perdue. It’s hard to say when either race will be called. The Ossoff-Perdue call might have to wait until late absentee and provisional ballots are counted.
Lynsey Weatherspoon for The New York Times
Ben Gray/Associated Press
Alex Wong/Getty Images
Nicole Craine for The New York Times
Erik S Lesser/EPA, via Shutterstock
After a relatively smooth day at the polls, Georgia began the long process of counting votes and awaiting results.
If the Dems exceed Biden’s margins in blue counties, that seems to support Stacey Abrams’s argument that the key is not persuading swing voters, it’s getting left-leaning voters to the polls.
Republicans pleaded with Trump to care about this race. And as the runoff approached, they worried he had become more disengaged because he didn’t want to help in a state he’d lost.
[Read more on the history Raphael Warnock is chasing.]
Democrats were growing increasingly optimistic on Tuesday night that their candidates could prevail in Georgia’s Senate races — particularly the Rev. Raphael Warnock, who appeared to be performing slightly more strongly than Jon Ossoff, the party’s other contender.
If Mr. Warnock were to succeed, it would be a fitting culmination to an election cycle in which, hours after Joseph R. Biden Jr. was declared the president-elect, he told Black voters in his victory speech, “You’ve always had my back, and I’ll have yours.”
It would also be a generational breakthrough for Southern Black Democrats.
Mr. Warnock, 51, the pastor who took the pulpit at Ebenezer Baptist Church, where the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once preached, has spoken on the campaign trail about his life experiences as a Black man born and raised in the South. He is running for office in a state where people in predominantly Black neighborhoods waited in disproportionately long lines to vote last year, and where one study found that more than 80 percent of the residents hospitalized for coronavirus in the state were Black — vestiges of systemic racism in the democratic and health care systems.
Political power in the former Jim Crow South, where few Black Americans have been elected to statewide office, is inextricably linked to race. And Mr. Warnock’s place in the political universe is distinct from the election of Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, or Northerners like former President Barack Obama, previously a senator from Illinois, and Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey.
Together, Mr. Warnock and Mr. Ossoff have the chance to expand Mr. Biden’s legislative agenda. But Mr. Warnock alone was seeking to overcome a barrier reinforced in the South over and over again, crystallized in a saying that become popular during the civil rights movement: “The South doesn’t care how close a Negro gets, just so he doesn’t get too high.”
On Tuesday, Black Democrats in Georgia said such history was not lost on them. Neither was how long it took the party to seriously pursue the possibility of success in Georgia.
“It took Democrats forever to invest in Georgia,” said Frazier Lively, a 71-year-old who lives in Macon and attended a recent rally. “Now you would hope what’s happening here is a message to what’s possible going forward.”
With the races close, worth mentioning that if the result is within 0.5 percentage points, the losing candidate can seek a recount. Ballots would be run through the scanners again.
Chatham County, which includes Warnock’s hometown, Savannah, and Cobb County, an increasingly diverse Atlanta suburb, still have large chunks of uncounted votes.
DeKalb County, which has lagged other Atlanta-area counties in its reporting tonight, is the state’s fourth most populous county and tilts overwhelmingly Democratic.
A lesson many Dems learned the hard way in the Obama years: Not so easy getting a president’s voters to show up when he’s not on the ballot. G.O.P. saw this in ’18 and is anxious about the same tonight.
Question hanging over the night: If Perdue and Loeffler lose, how much sway will Trump hold with congressional Republicans tomorrow as he pushes them to object to certification of his loss?
In Richmond County (Augusta) in November, the Democrats led by 36 percentage points. With almost all the votes counted, Warnock is leading by 43 points. Ossoff’s lead is similar.
In counties where most votes are counted and Warnock is leading, he’s exceeding the Dems’ margin in November by several points. In red counties Loeffler has about the same margin as the Republicans in November.
Gabriel Sterling, a Republican election official in Georgia who has forcefully condemned President Trump’s efforts to overturn the results of the presidential election there, said Tuesday evening that if Republicans lost the two Senate runoffs — a real possibility based on early results — it would be Mr. Trump’s fault.
The blame would “fall squarely on the shoulders of President Trump and his actions since Nov. 3,” Mr. Sterling said on CNN.
Asked what he would tell Mr. Trump if he were watching the interview, Mr. Sterling said: “Mr. President, you’ve already lost the state of Georgia. The thing now is, no matter what you say, you can’t undermine the people of Georgia’s integrity to know their voting system works and their vote is going to count.”
Just a day earlier, on Monday, Mr. Sterling had made an emotional plea to Georgians not to let the president’s false claims of election fraud deter them from participating in the runoff elections, which will determine which party controls the Senate and how much President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. is able to accomplish. And he was far from the only Republican official with that concern.
In a news conference after his CNN appearance, Mr. Sterling said that 64 of Georgia’s 159 counties had fully reported their results, with the largest number of uncounted votes remaining in DeKalb County, a Democratic stronghold.
More votes from Republican strongholds have come in, pushing the G.O.P. hopefuls into small leads for the moment. But a lot of Democrat-leaning ballots remain around Atlanta.
All eyes were on mail-in ballots when general election results were tallied in November. And now, with control of the Senate hinging on two runoff elections in Georgia, it is no surprise that mail-in ballots are getting attention again. Here is what we know about when they will be counted:
Mail-in ballots could not be counted before the polls closed, even if they arrived before election day. But many ballots have already been processed, meaning envelope signatures and addresses have been verified, though the tallying of the votes themselves only began Tuesday night.
Of course, it is hard to say how long it will take for all of the mail-in ballots to be counted.
First, some mail-in ballots may not have been received yet. Although most Georgians had to get their ballots in by the time the polls closed at 7 p.m. Eastern, military and overseas voters have three additional days for their ballots to be received, as long as they mailed them by Tuesday.
Second, some counties will count their mail-in ballots faster than others.
So when will all the mail-in ballots actually be counted? Only time will tell.
Rockdale County is the largest thus far to report it has completed vote counting. The results there: Democrats are outperforming their November numbers by about 4 percentage points.
The northern Atlanta suburbs of the 6th Congressional District are a bellwether: home to Newt Gingrich, won by Trump in 2016 and Biden in 2020. Watch northern Fulton and DeKalb Counties and eastern Cobb County.
While both Georgia Senate races are still much too close to call, there is some positive news for Democrats in the early returns.
First, it appears that the Democratic candidates — Jon Ossoff and the Rev. Raphael Warnock — are doing better in some individual counties than benchmarks set in November.
In Fulton County, the most populous county in the state and a crucial Democratic area that includes Atlanta, Mr. Warnock appears to be winning a slightly higher percentage of the vote than President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. did when he beat President Trump. And in Macon County, also heavily Democratic, both Mr. Warnock and Mr. Ossoff appear to have outperformed Mr. Biden.
Washington County, in eastern Georgia, appears to have voted for Mr. Ossoff after voting narrowly for his Republican opponent, Senator David Perdue, in November. (Mr. Warnock finished ahead of his Republican opponent, Senator Kelly Loeffler, in Washington County in November, but that race was so crowded with candidates that it’s hard to directly compare it to the runoff.)
Second, it was clear heading into Tuesday that Democrats had built up a strong advantage in early and mail-in voting, meaning Republicans needed excellent turnout on election day — and there are indications that they may not have gotten it.
In some rural, heavily Republican counties, it appears that turnout is less than 90 percent of what it was in November, whereas turnout in DeKalb County, Macon County and potentially other Democratic areas is expected to be more than 90 percent of what it was in November.
None of this is definitive. Only about half of the vote has been counted so far, and the second half could be more favorable to the Republicans. But as of halftime, they haven’t gotten a lot of good news.
Astead Herndon in Garden City, Ga.
The Trump campaign spreading disinformation in a text to supporters: “Is it true that voting machines ‘stopped working’ earlier in Georgia today? Are Dems trying to STEAL this Election?”
40 percent of the estimated ballots have been counted. Democrats hold leads, but there are a lot of remaining votes, especially in Republican strongholds in northern Georgia.
Fair Fight Action, founded by Stacey Abrams, is urging voters to stay in line — a reminder of Georgia’s history of voter suppression, and a sign of the down-to-the-wire races.
Another sign of the importance of the race — and the money poured into it: 40 percent of voters surveyed by The A.P. said they were contacted on behalf of both parties’ candidates.
Audra Melton for The New York Times
Chang W. Lee/The New York Times
Curtis Compton/Atlanta Journal-Constitution, via Associated Press
Michael Holahan/The Augusta Chronicle, via Associated Press
Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images
Nicole Craine for The New York Times
They won’t be old enough to vote for a while, but children in Georgia got an up-close view of the process on Tuesday.
All that advertising seems to have worked for Republicans in at least one way: According to A.P. surveys, more voters see Ossoff and Warnock as “extreme” than Perdue or Loeffler.
The elections on Tuesday in Georgia are set to reveal the extent to which President Trump has disrupted and damaged his own party.
For the last several weeks, Mr. Trump has instigated and intensified a battle royal within the Georgia Republican universe as he has sought to overturn his loss there and pin blame on the state’s G.O.P. leaders for not helping him.
In response, the state’s Republicans have turned on one another, taking sides for or against Mr. Trump as he continues in his obstinate — some say unlawful — effort to overturn the election results in Georgia, where he lost by nearly 12,000 votes.
The outcome of these Senate elections will show, on one level, how Republican voters have reacted to Mr. Trump’s quest to upend what he has falsely called a “rigged” election.
If Republican turnout is strong on Tuesday and lifts the party’s candidates to victory, it may be another sign of Mr. Trump’s ability to energize the G.O.P. base.
But if Republicans do not ultimately turn out in large numbers, the blame will fall at least partly on Mr. Trump for his efforts to raise doubts about the fairness of the state’s election process.
For Republicans in the state, the concern all along has been that Mr. Trump’s effort to undermine the election process will depress turnout, partly because he has stoked beliefs that the system itself cannot be trusted.
Charles S. Bullock III, a professor of political science at the University of Georgia, said Mr. Trump’s phone call Saturday pressuring Georgia’s secretary of state to overturn the presidential election results there could also turn some of the president’s former supporters against the Republican candidates.
“They may say, ‘This has gone too far. I can’t vote against Trump, but I can vote against his surrogates,’” Mr. Bullock said in an interview on Monday.
Chang W. Lee/The New York Times
Chang W. Lee/The New York Times
Chang W. Lee/The New York Times
Chang W. Lee/The New York Times
The polls are now closed in Georgia, and results have started coming in. A small handful of precincts received court-ordered brief extensions because of problems earlier in the day.
We’re expecting votes to be counted somewhat faster than they were in November, because a new rule required Georgia election officials to begin processing early mail-in ballots at least a week before election day. This means that, while officials weren’t allowed to count anything before the polls closed, they should have already finished a great deal of the work of opening envelopes, verifying signatures and so forth.
Because of this, it is possible — but not guaranteed! — that we’ll know who won tonight.
That said, be very cautious about interpreting early results. Because votes cast before Tuesday are expected to be disproportionately Democratic and votes cast on election day are expected to be disproportionately Republican, a candidate who appears to be significantly behind at the beginning of the night could very well catch up by the end.
Keep in mind, too, that anyone who is in line by 7 p.m. has the right to vote, even it takes them several hours more to reach the ballot box.
By Jenny Catherall and Arthur Thompson
By Jenny Catherall and Arthur Thompson
By Jenny Catherall and Arthur Thompson
By Jenny Catherall and Arthur Phillips
In an extremely tight race with national implications, all eyes turned to the ballot counting process in Georgia, where state officials told us they’re determined to get it right. While some voters echoed baseless claims of election fraud put forth by President Trump, others defended the integrity of the process.
Gabriel Sterling, a top Georgia election official, told reporters shortly before the polls were scheduled to close that the day had gone mostly smoothly, but that a handful of precincts would stay open past 7 p.m. because of problems earlier in the day.
As of when Mr. Sterling appeared around 6:15 p.m. Eastern, courts had ordered extended hours at six polling locations and were considering requests for extensions at four other locations. These sorts of orders are not unusual, and most of the extensions are very short: In Columbia County, for instance, Precinct 65 will be open until 7:01 p.m. instead of 7, and Precinct 34 will be open until 7:04.
A few of the extensions are longer, though. The Old Chatham County Courthouse in Savannah will be open until 7:33, Beach High School in Savannah will be open until 7:35, and the Eldorado precinct in Tift County will be open until 7:40.
Ware County could also request an extension because of an accident that shut down the main road to one polling place.
Mr. Sterling added that Georgia’s voter information website, where people can do things like look up their polling place or check on the status of their absentee ballot, had been slowed earlier in the day when a single IP address began sending several requests per second. He said officials had responded by blocking the IP address, which was domestic.