Main content
Georgia runoff results: Emory political experts weigh in
Media Contact
Danielle Williams
Georgia voting button

Georgia’s runoff election is now over, with Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock defeating GOP challenger Herschel Walker.

Emory’s political science experts share their insights on the election results:


Alan Abramowitz

Alben W. Barkley Professor Emeritus 

While we saw some negative partisanship going on in this election, there were clearly other factors that contributed to Raphael Warnock’s victory over Herschel Walker. 

There are several things we learned from this race: One, that candidate quality matters. Second is that incumbency still matters; the fact that Raphael Warnock was running as an incumbent was very beneficial to him. Third, however, is that despite all the advantages that Warnock had, the strong campaign … we ended up with such a close race. Warnock ends up winning by just under three percentage points. 

What that reflects, I think, is the deep divisions within the electorate and continued power of negative partisanship. The vast majority of voters are going to cast their ballot for the party’s nominee no matter what. … The vast majority of Republicans ended up voting for Herschel Walker, but not enough to put him over the top.  


Alexander Bolton

Associate Professor of Political Science and Director of Experiential Learning

Sen. Warnock’s reelection win on Tuesday night, while not decisive for partisan control of the Senate, will still have important implications for governance over the next two years. 

Moving from a 50- to 51-seat majority will allow Democrats to take clearer control of the chamber, most notably on committees. In the current Congress, the committees are evenly divided between the parties. Democrats will be able to take the majority of seats on all of them in the next Congress, helping to speed the consideration of nominations and legislation that split the parties.

Continued Democratic control of the Senate will also ensure that President Biden and Democrats will be able to keep shaping the federal judiciary and executive branch over the next two years with appointments requiring Senate confirmation.

The expanded majority also gives Democrats some greater room to maneuver on issues requiring only a simple majority, because they will now be able to carry out those activities while still losing the vote of one Democratic senator. However, this is likely to matter most for nominations, as there will be little opportunity for Democrats to move reconciliation bills like the Inflation Reduction Act that require only a simple majority now that Republicans will control the House. The shift in the House means that to pass legislation, Democrats will need to build coalitions with Republicans on a regular basis to overcome filibusters even though their majority grew.


Andra Gillespie

Associate Professor of Political Science and Director of the James Weldon Johnson Institute

Now that the Georgia runoff has been called, I will point to two things that worked in Sen. Warnock’s favor: He ran against a compromised and inexperienced opponent, and he stepped up his GOTV (get-out-the-vote) game in the runoff. 

Overall, voter turnout in the runoff election was nearly 90% of the turnout in the November general election. That’s not a huge drop-off and reflects voter interest in the outcome of a race that has been the subject of intense mobilization campaigns by both candidates in the past month.

Also, nearly twice as many voters voted early as voted on Election Day. Georgia voters are clearly expressing a preference for early voting. Legislators should heed this. 


Zachary Peskowitz

Associate Professor of Political Science and Director of Undergraduate Studies

Georgia is set up to be a central battleground in the 2024 presidential election. Given the split-ticket outcomes in the gubernatorial and Senate races, both parties have a real chance to win Georgia’s 16 Electoral College votes. 

Given the Republican majority in the House, the policy impacts of Warnock’s victory will be limited. The biggest winners are Biden's judicial and executive branch nominees, who will have a much easier time being confirmed in a 51-49 Senate than a 50-50 Senate. Warnock’s victory also gives Democrats a slim chance, as opposed to a miniscule one, of retaining their Senate majority after the 2024 election.

Recent News