Democratic turnout often lags in runoffs; not so this time.
January 6, 2021, 5:52 AM
• 11 min read
Black voters and Democrats held on to their share of the electorate in Georgia’s runoff election Tuesday, with voters overall split down the middle on preferred control of the U.S. Senate – a recipe for two more extraordinarily tight races in a state that recently was reliably Republican.
Black people – a core Democratic group – accounted for 29% of voters in the ABC News exit poll, essentially the same number, 28%, from November. And 36% of all voters were Democrats, as were 34% two months ago. Democratic turnout often flags in runoffs; not so this time.
Voters’ views on a top issue – whether the Republican or Democratic Party should control the U.S. Senate – could hardly have been closer: They split 49-49% on the question in one of the two races, 49-48% in the other. The GOP needed either of the two Senate seats in play to retain control, while the Democrats needed both to win it.
While participation by Black voters was key, smaller groups may matter as well in the final outcomes, which were yet to be projected late Tuesday. Hispanic voters, for example, accounted for just 5% of voters, but Democrat Jon Ossoff won 63% of their votes – up from 52% in the November exit poll. Fellow Democrat Raphael Warnock had a similar level of support among Hispanics. And both won about six in 10 Asian voters, 2% of the electorate.
At the same time, the results indicated a decline in turnout in the Democrats’ best age group, voters younger than 30. They accounted for 13% of all voters, down from 20% in Ossoff’s race against David Perdue and 19% in Warnock’s contest against Kelly Loeffler in November.
Most of the difference was made up by a 6- or 7-point rise in the share of voters age 65+, the best age group for the Republicans. While Ossoff and Warnock both won 67% of under-30s, Perdue and Loeffler both were supported by 62% of the more-numerous seniors.
In another focus of the race, sizable numbers of voters – albeit fewer than half – accepted the “too liberal” labels the Republican candidates sought to pin on their Democratic opponents. Forty-five percent saw Warnock as too liberal, as did 44% for Ossoff. Fewer, 35% respectively, saw either Loeffler or Perdue as too conservative.
That said, ratings as being “about right” ideologically were similar for all four candidates – 49% for Loeffler and Perdue alike, and 46% for both Warnock and Ossoff.