Yesterday (and in early voting over the last three weeks), nearly 4 million Georgians cast ballots to decide the makeup of their congressional delegation and leadership under the Gold Dome. This morning, we get an almost-complete picture of what voters chose. In short, Republicans led by Governor Brian Kemp earned approval to keep up “business as usual” for the state, but that does not mean you get your normal television commercials back just yet. With the U.S. Senate bout between Raphael Warnock and Herschel Walker likely heading to a runoff on Dec. 6 and control of the U.S. Senate potentially up for grabs, turkey won’t be the only talk around the Thanksgiving table. Our key takeaways from the 2022 General Election in this Special #GoldDomeReport.
Through Tuesday’s election and as of Wednesday morning, 3,945,375 ballots were cast from Georgia’s 6,953,485 registered voters, resulting in turnout exceeding 56% of registered voters. With approximately 97% of precincts reporting but before all absentee and provisional ballots are counted, here are our key takeaways:
- The U.S. Senate race between incumbent Raphael Warnock (D) and challenger Herschel Walker (R) appears headed for a runoff on Dec. 6. Warnock currently leads by approximately 35,000 votes, but with the two candidates garnering 49.42% and 48.52% of the vote, neither appears likely to crest the 50% plus one votes necessary to avoid a runoff. This race is closely watched nationwide as it could be integral to flipping the U.S. Senate to Republican control, particularly after the Fetterman win in Pennsylvania. Depending on the outcome of other state’s U.S. Senate races, control of the chamber could be on the line in the runoff (and national attention and money headed to Georgia over Thanksgiving).
- Georgia’s delegation to the U.S. House of Representatives gains one Republican (now 9 Rs, 5 Ds). The gain comes from the redistricting of Georgia’s 6th and 7th congressional districts, both previously held by Democrats. 6th district incumbent Lucy McBath (D) was redistricted into the 7th (where she won on Tuesday), leaving a vacancy in the 6th that was picked up by Rich McCormick (R). Democrats staved off a Republican charge in the 2nd district, with longtime incumbent Sanford Bishop (D) defeating Chris West (R) in the most-competitive and most-watched House race in Georgia. Other than the addition of McCormick and Mike Collins (R), who replaced Jody Hice (R) in the 10th district, Georgia’s House delegation will look the same.
- Governor Brian Kemp (R) easily won re-election in a 2018 rematch against Stacey Abrams (D). Kemp leads Abrams by nearly eight points and garnered more raw votes in 2022 than in 2018 while Abrams appears to have underperformed in raw votes compared to her energetic run in 2018. Kemp’s re-election, along with the continuing Republican control of the Georgia General Assembly likely means it will continue to be “business as usual” under the Gold Dome in 2023.
- All other statewide constitutional offices were swept by Republicans. Incumbents re-elected include embattled Secretary of State Brad Raffensberger (R), Attorney General Chris Carr (R), Insurance Commissioner John King (R), and State School Superintendent Richard Woods (R), the top vote-getter on the ballot. The incumbents will be joined by new Lieutenant Governor Burt Jones (R), Agriculture Commissioner Tyler Harper (R), and Labor Commissioner Bruce Thompson (R). Interestingly, all of the new statewide constitutional officers are currently state senators (whose terms are ending and whom did not seek re-election to their seats).
- The Georgia State Senate and Georgia House of Representatives will remain solidly in Republican control. Republicans appear to have lost one seat in the Senate, shifting the balance to 33 Rs and 23 Ds. Republicans appear to have lost two seats in the House, shifting the balance to 101 Rs and 78 Ds in the House (one formerly Democratic held seat is vacant pending a special election). Notable races include:
- House member Josh McLaurin (D) likely defeating former Fulton County Commissioner Liz Hausmann (R) 55%-45% in a North Atlanta State Senate race (Senate District 14).
- Senator Sally Harrell (D) holding off a charge by newcomer Austin McDonald (R) 62%-38% in a northern DeKalb County State Senate race (Senate District 40).
- Former House member Scott Hilton (R) likely unseating House Minority Caucus Chairwoman Mary Robichaux (D) 54%-46% in a Roswell State House race (House District 48).
- State Senator Michelle Au (D) likely winning an open House seat in Fulton County after being drawn out of her State Senate district (House District 50).
- Former House member Deborah Silcox (R) likely making a return in an open House race in Fulton County (House District 53).
- Tim Fleming (R), former Chief of Staff to Governor Kemp, won election to an open rural House seat east of Metro Atlanta (House District 114).
Now that elections are (mostly) complete and before the likely runoff hits a fever pitch, eyes turn to legislative leadership races in the General Assembly. With the recent announcement that Speaker David Ralston (R) will not seek his post again in 2023, a race is on to grab the gavel and fill leadership posts down the line (including committee chairmanships like Appropriations). The State Senate is similarly looking for new leadership with several senators vying to take the top job a President Pro Tempore, including current leaders whose election would create vacancies in the current pecking order. Caucuses are expected to meet later this week and early next week to select their candidates, which must be formally voted on by each chamber when the legislature convenes on Jan. 9.