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Raphael Warnock and Herschel Walker storm Georgia ahead of Tuesday’s election runoff

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Democratic Senator Raphael Warnock joined labor organizers on Monday and campaigned with rapper Killer Mike.

Republican Hershel Walker hosted a virtual rally with former President Donald Trump and appealed to upstate voters.

For many Georgia voters, the last-minute jockey was irrelevant. They had already voted in the second round of elections for the United States Senate.

Nearly 1.9 million ballots have already been cast, around half the total votes cast a month ago, when Mr Warnock and Mr Walker each fell below the 50 per cent mark and found themselves in the second round of Tuesday’s elections.

Massive early voting has become the norm in U.S. elections over the past few decades, upending the way campaigns usually fight in the final stretch of the race.

In Georgia, analysis by Targetsmart, a Democratic firm, found that 52% of early votes were cast by registered Democrats. Only 39% were chosen by Republicans.

“I’m inspired by this strong early voter turnout – I am,” Mr Warnock said at a recent campaign rally before cracking a smile. “But I don’t want us to fall asleep.”

Walker’s campaign manager Scott Paradise called the totals “good news” for Mr Walker.

“Republicans have a lot of people running and a lot more going to run, let’s keep the momentum on our side,” Mr Paradise said last week.

Jon Couvillion, a pollster at JMC Analytics, said campaigns are scrambling to spin the facts in their favor, keen to keep voters engaged.

“You’re essentially creating positive momentum and by having that positive momentum, not only does it give the candidate the boost they need to step it up on election day, it’s also good for the donors,” said Mr. Couvillion. “If you’re pumped, you’re going to go that extra mile to get every voter out you can.”

“Positive vibes breed more positive vibes,” he said.

The election in Georgia is the last Senate race on the shelf. If Mr. Warnock wins, that will give the Democratic caucus an outright majority of 51 seats, giving them a little more room to maneuver in the tightly divided chamber.

If Mr. Walker wins, the 100-member Senate will also remain divided with the ruling Democrats thanks to Vice President Kamala Harris’ decisive vote.

On Monday, Mr. Walker made five campaign stops across the state, shaking hands, taking photos and signing shirts for his supporters.

He focused his attention on voters in suburban Atlanta and upstate where he ran behind Republican Gov. Brian Kemp in the midterm elections. Analysts say those voters are essential for him to win a victory.

“I feel pretty good about tomorrow,” Mr Walker told reporters on his second stop before getting back on his campaign bus. “We work on participation, participation, participation.”

“I think a vote for Warnock is a vote for those failed policies, a vote for me is for a better comer,” he said.

Mr Trump was due to headline a virtual event on Mr Walker’s behalf as part of a last-ditch effort to rally the party’s base.

Mr Warnock also hosted a series of campaign stops, joining fellow Democrat Sen. Jon Ossoff of Georgia Tech, where he urged students to bring their friends and families to the polls.

“Call Loddie Doddie and everybody, tell them it’s time to vote,” Mr Warnock said. “Tell them that a vote is a kind of prayer for the world we want for ourselves and our children.

“Tell them that your vote is your voice and your voice is your human dignity,” he said. “I believe in voting. I believe in democracy. I am proud to be American. »

Polls show Mr Warnock with a slight advantage, and analysts say early vote tallies show why. He was able to cash in on a significant number of early votes and just needs to focus on voter turnout in the Atlanta area on Tuesday.

Mr. Walker, meanwhile, is to increase the numbers statewide.

That the Republican finds himself in an early voting hole is strange. In most states, the GOP would build an early voting lead, and the question usually was whether Democrats could overcome it with Election Day turnout.

Analysts say Mr. Trump helped squander that advantage with his attacks on voting in the last presidential election.

“Republicans had an advantage in mail-in ballots before the 2020 election and Trump destroyed it,” said Michael McDonald, a University of Florida political science professor who specializes in elections.

He said Democrats were making progress thanks to former President Barack Obama, who placed particular emphasis on early voting in 2008, aided by new technology that allowed campaigns to more accurately track and target voters.

With some states moving to fully mailed ballots and most states allowing easy early voting, it is common for states to have more votes cast before Election Day.

“We have such a high volume of it, and for better or worse, it’s forced campaigns to adapt, and it’s changing the dynamics of the election,” McDonald said.

The campaigns and their allies had to rethink their approach. A candidate counting on a last-minute surprise in October or a powerful pleading announcement may miss a chance to win over voters.

It can also affect voters themselves.

“Over the years I have had campaigns contact me saying can you stop publishing early voting numbers because we are afraid it will lower turnout,” Mr McDonald said.

He said the reality in Georgia is that there’s no way to know how early voting is going, especially given the nature of a runoff, where the level of turnout is always uncertain.

“There’s no reason anyone shouldn’t show up to vote in Georgia because they think Warnock has already won the election,” he said.



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