(The Center Square) — U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock, D-Georgia, and Republican challenger Herschel Walker will likely head to a runoff next month, potentially with the balance of the U.S. Senate on the line.
With more than 88% of precincts reporting, Warnock and Walker were in a virtual dead heat, each garnering about 49% of the votes cast. In Georgia, a candidate needs more than 50% of the vote to avoid a runoff, and Libertarian Chase Oliver appeared to play the spoiler, picking up roughly 2% of the votes.
Voters will return to the polls on Dec. 6 to decide the race, which could determine the balance of the U.S. Senate.
Two years ago, Warnock defeated Republican incumbent Republican U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler in a runoff. U.S. Sen. Jon Ossoff, D-Georgia, also won a runoff, knocking off incumbent Republican U.S. Sen. David Perdue.
Political pundits pointed to the races as proof that Georgia’s electorate is shifting and turning to Democrats. Despite the talk of the red state of Georgia turning blue, on Tuesday, incumbent Republican Gov. Brian Kemp appeared headed to a decisive victory over Democrat Stacey Abrams in a closely watched rematch of the 2018 gubernatorial election.
While the state’s new election law was a focus of debate leading up to Tuesday’s vote, the state saw record-breaking voter turnout for a midterm election during the early voting period.
“2.4 million voters will turnout during Early Voting,” Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said in a Friday announcement. “That alone reflects that our Early Voting infrastructure is among the nation’s best.”
Raffensperger, a Republican, also won reelection on Tuesday.