CBS News projects that Jon Ossoff has defeated incumbent Senator David Perdue in Tuesday's Senate runoff election in Georgia, handing Democrats control of the Senate in a dramatic shift that upends the balance of power in Washington. Earlier, Democrat Raphael Warnock was also projected to win the state's other runoff election against GOP Senator Kelly Loeffler.
Ossoff and Warnock's victories ensure that Democrats will hold a 50-50 majority in the Senate, with Vice President-elect Kamala Harris breaking any tie. This will make it easier for President-elect Joe Biden to implement his legislative priorities, and have his cabinet nominees confirmed quickly and without issue.
The news came amid a chaotic and violent day in the Washington as supporters of President Trump stormed the U.S. Capitol, forcing Congress to recess while they were set to count the Electoral College votes.
"I'm just so very grateful to the people of Georgia," Warnock, who will be the, said Wednesday on "CBS This Morning." "They sent a strong and clear message last night when they sent a person who grew up in public housing, one of 12 children in my family, I'm the first college graduate. That I am serving in the United States Senate in a few days pushes against the grain of so many expectations. But this is America."
Warnock, the pastor of the Atlanta church once led by Martin Luther King Jr., is only the second Black senator elected from the South since Reconstruction.
Ossoff declared victory earlier on Wednesday morning. Although he defeated Perdue by a narrower margin than Warnock defeated Loeffler, Georgia's top elections official said Wednesday that he thought it would be larger than 0.5% needed to avoid a recount.
"I want to thank the people of Georgia for participating in this election, everybody who cast your ballot, everybody who put your faith and confidence in our democracy's capacity to deliver the representation that we deserve, whether you were for me, or against me, I'll be for you in the U.S. Senate. I will serve all the people of the state," Ossoff said.
- CBS News projects Ossoff will win
- Warnock says Georgia voters "sent a strong and clear message"
- Top Georgia election official says Trump drove Democratic turnout in Georgia
- Pelosi heralds "historic victories," promising "extraordinary progress"
- Schumer declares victory, vowing that "help is on the way"
- CBS News projects Democrat Warnock wins his race
Democrats gain control of Senate with 2 victories in Georgia runoffs
In a stunning upset that dramatically shifts the balance of power in Washington, Democrats Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock are projected to defeat two Republican incumbent senators in runoff elections in Georgia, ensuring Democratic control of the U.S. Senate for the first time in six years. CBS News projected Ossoff's win as supporters of President Trump's stormed the U.S. Capitol, forcing Congress to delay counting the Electoral College votes.
Ossoff and Warnock are the first Democrats Georgia has sent to the Senate since 2005, another signal that Georgia may be turning blue after President-elect Joe Biden won the state in November.
Georgia Secretary of State's office in state Capitol evacuated amid U.S. Capitol protests
The Georgia Secretary of State's office in the Atlanta Capitol has been evacuated, CBS News has confirmed, amid protests at the building. The evacuation comes as supporters of President Trump's have stormed the U.S. Capitol, causing Congress to recess as it was set to count the Electoral College votes.
Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger has become one of Mr. Trump's favorite targets after he lost the election. On Saturday, Mr. Trump pressured Raffensperger on a call to "find" more than 11,000 more votes so that he would win the state's Electoral College votes in the presidential election, according to audio obtained by CBS News.
CBS News projects Ossoff will win
Jon Ossoff will win his Senate race against incumbent Senator Kelly Loeffler, CBS News projects. WIth Ossoff's win, Democrats will take control of the Senate.
CBS News made the projection as President-elect Joe Biden gave an address while supporters of President Trump's stormed the U.S. Capitol, delaying the counting of the Electoral College votes.
Trump falsely claims Democrats "cheated like hell" in Georgia runoffs
Inin front of protesters on Wednesday, he briefly touched on the Georgia runoff elections, falsely claiming that Democrats "cheated like hell" to win. Georgia's top elections official said Wednesday there has been no evidence of irregularities despite Mr. Trump's claims.
Mr. Trump was speaking ahead of Congress counting the Electoral College votes, and he thanked the Republicans who will object to the election results.
"Kelly Loeffler, I'll tell you she's been — she's been so great, she worked so hard, so let's give her and David a little special hand because it was rigged against them," Mr. Trump said. "Let's give her and David, Kelly Loeffler, David Perdue, they fought a good race, they never had a shot, that equipment should've never been allowed to be used."
Mr. Trump has baselessly alleged voting machines in Georgia were not working, and tweeted on Tuesday that Dominion Voting machines were "not working in certain Republican Strongholds." Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger refuted those claims on Tuesday, saying a "small number of the keys that start up the paper-ballot scanners were programmed incorrectly" and all issues were resolved by 10 a.m.
Obama congratulates Democrats on Georgia win but says Democrats have to "remain engaged"
Former President Obama issued a statement on Wednesday congratulating Democrats on the Georgia wins. But he warned that Democrats need to "remain engaged in civic life."
"But the past four years show us that even outside of election season—and outside of races that garner national attention—we've got to remain engaged in civic life," Mr. Obama said. "From police reforms to gerrymandering decisions, many levers of real and lasting progress are found at the state and local levels, and further advancements depend on us vigilantly honoring the precious, sometimes fragile gift of the American experiment. In recent years, our institutions, our democracy, and truth itself have been greatly tested by those who've chosen to prioritize personal gain or political ambition over our democratic principles. And even a good election will not eliminate those threats."
Mr. Obama also said "my friend John Lewis is surely smiling down on his beloved Georgia this morning."
Warnock makes history in Georgia Senate runoff
Reverend Raphael Warnock will make history as Georgia's first Black senator. CBS News political analyst Leslie Sanchez and CBS News political contributor Lynda Tran joined CBSN with analysis from Georgia's runoffs.
Schumer says $2,000 checks are one of the first priorities in new Senate
Senator Chuck Schumer, who will be majority leader if Ossoff is declared the winner in his race, said "one of the first things" he wants to do is pass $2,000 stimulus checks.
Schumer said he had spoken to President-elect Joe Biden. He said Mr. Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris will have a "partner" in him and the Democratic caucus, "ready willing and able to help achieve a forward looking agenda and deliver bold change to the American people."
If Democrats take control of the chamber, it will mean Mr. Biden will have an easier time enacting his agenda in his first two years in office.
Schumer said he watched the results from his home in Brooklyn, and had spoken to Ossoff several times when he realized the areas with votes left to be counted tended to be heavily Democratic.
Schumer congratulated Ossoff and Warnock for running "first-rate campaigns," and he also gave a shoutout to Stacey Abrams and Fair Fight.
Georgia runoffs and the path ahead for Democrats and Republicans
CBS News projects Democrat Raphael Warnock will beat out Senator Kelly Loeffler in Georgia, while votes are still being counted in the runoff between Jon Ossoff and GOP Senator David Perdue. Political contributors Leslie Sanchez and Antjuan Seawright spoke joined CBSN to discuss about the futures of the Democratic and Republican parties, as well as the effort by some GOP lawmakers in Congress to object to Electoral College votes.
Georgia's top election official: Ossoff will likely have a victory over 0.5% needed to avoid recount
Gabriel Sterling, Georgia's top elections official, said Wednesday that Democrat Jon Ossoff will likely have a victory over the 0.5% needed to avoid a runoff. CBS News has not yet projected a winner in that race.
Ossoff had a 17,000 vote lead over Senator David Perdue as of Wednesday morning, with thousands of votes still left to be counted, many of them from heavily Democratic areas.
Sterling said there was no evidence of voting irregularities.
Sterling called the turnout an "impressive feat." Sterling, a lifelong Republican, said Democrats were out "knocking on doors" while Republicans were "busy attacking my boss."
When asked what was to blame for the Republicans' lackluster performance, Sterling said, "Donald J. Trump."
"Between him and a couple of other people who ran for office and didn't think it all the way through of what the outcomes could be," Sterling said, apparently referring to candidates who split the vote in November, forcing the runoffs. "It all comes out of that. When you say your vote doesn't count, then you have people who've laid your hands on people, these are my people, who say don't come and vote, then you spark a civil war between the GOP that needs to be united in a fight like this."
Jon Ossoff claims victory in close Georgia Senate race as vote count continues
Democrat Jon Ossoff claimed victory in the Georgia Senate runoff race against Republican Senator David Perdue as votes were still being counted. CBS News has not yet projected a winner in the race, but Ossoff held a razor-thin margin over Perdue on Wednesday morning. Watch Ossoff's remarks.
Biden says he will be "pleased" to work with "Majority Leader Schumer"
President-elect Joe Biden on Wednesday morning congratulated Warnock on his victory in a statement and he expressed confidence that Ossoff will be declared the winner in his race today.
"I congratulate the people of Georgia, who turned out in record numbers once again, just as they did in November, to elect two new Senators, demand action, and call on our elected leaders to end the gridlock and move us forward as a nation," Mr. Biden said. He also thanked the organizing efforts of Stacey Abrams and Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms.
Mr. Biden argued that Georgia's voters had delivered him with a mandate for action "on COVID-19, on economic relief, on climate, on racial justice, on voting rights and so much more."
"It looks like we will emerge from yesterday's election with Democratic leadership in the House and the Senate, and of course I'm pleased that we will be able to work with Speaker Pelosi and a Majority Leader Schumer," Mr. Biden said.
However, he also renewed his call for bipartisanship, saying "I'm also just as determined today as I was yesterday to try to work with people in both parties — at the federal, state, and local levels — to get big things done for our nation." If Democrats win both seats, they will have the narrowest possible majority in the Senate, with Vice President-elect Kamala Harris casting any tie-breaking vote, meaning that most major legislation will likely need some support from Republicans.
Mr. Biden also expressed confidence that the Senate would quickly confirm his cabinet nominees.
"After the past four years, after the election, and after today's election certification proceedings on the Hill, it's time to turn the page. The American people demand action and they want unity. I am more optimistic than I ever have been that we can deliver both," Mr. Biden said.
Warnock says Georgia voters "sent a strong and clear message"
Warnock told "CBS This Morning" that he is "very grateful" to the people of Georgia, who he said "sent a strong and clear message" by handing him a win over Loeffler.
"They sent a person who grew up in public housing, one of 12 children in my family — I'm the first college graduate — that I am serving in the United States Senate in a few days, pushes against the grain of so many expectations," he said Wednesday morning.
Warnock said he hoped "some young person" would be inspired by his historic victory.
The Georgia Democrat will be the first Black senator to represent his state. Loeffler, the Republican incumbent and an ally of President Trump, was appointed to the seat in 2019 after former Senator Johnny Isakson resigned due to health reasons.
Top Georgia election official says Trump drove Democratic turnout in Georgia
Gabriel Sterling, a Republican who serves as Georgia's voting systems implementation manager, told CNN in an interview Mr. Trump is to blame for the GOP's loss in the Peach State.
When asked who he credits for driving turnout from Democratic voters who propelled Warnock to victory over Loeffler and has left Ossoff with an edge over Perdue, Sterling said "President Donald J. Trump."
"While he may inspire people on the Republican side, he pisses people off on the Democratic side," he said. 'When you can have a credible villain, that helps the Democrats turn out their vote."
Sterling said Mr. Trump's repeated claims in the weeks since November 3 that the election was stolen and ballots tossed out harmed Republicans' efforts to hold Georgia's two Senate seats and maintain their majority in the upper chamber.
"When you tell people your vote didn't count, this is all part of crazy town and people are stealing things, you undermine people's confidence in the vote, then you create a civil war at a GOP at a time when the GOP probably wanted to unite their vote to turn out," he said. "Those are the kind of things that the president is solely responsible for doing."
Sterling said roughly 65,000 ballots still have to be counted, though most are from areas where Democrats typically fare well. He predicted Warnock's and Ossoff's leads would increase through the morning.
Sterling also addressed Mr. Trump's unfounded allegation, made on Twitter, that 50,000 ballots were found last night.
"This is part of his intention to continue to create chaos around this as we go into his final act today as they challenge the results from Georgia and other states," he said.
Pelosi heralds "historic victories," promising "extraordinary progress"
Speaker Nancy Pelosi, like Schumer, congratulated Warnock and Ossoff in a statement on Wednesday, and indicated that a "unified Democratic Party" will work to advance Mr. Biden's agenda. CBS News has not yet called the race between Ossoff and Perdue, but considers the race as leaning Democratic.
"In the election, the people of Georgia went to the ballot box to vote for transformational, Democratic-led change. Now, because of the courageous leadership of Georgians, America will have a Democratic Senate working hand-in-hand with our Democratic House Majority and President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris," Pelosi said.
"Together, in under two weeks when we inaugurate the new Biden-Harris Administration, a unified Democratic Party will advance extraordinary progress For The People. We will pursue a science and values-based plan to crush the virus and deliver relief to struggling families, safeguard the right to quality affordable health care and launch a plan to Build Back Better powered by fair economic growth," Pelosi continued.
Schumer declares victory, promising that "help is on the way"
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, who is poised to become majority leader if Democrats control of the Senate, declared victory in both Georgia races and said Democrats are committed to aggressively pursue their agenda.
"It feels like a brand new day. For the first time in six years, Democrats will operate a majority in the United States Senate — and that will be very good for the American people," Schumer said in a statement. "America is experiencing one of the greatest crises we have ever faced, and the Senate Democratic Majority is committed to delivering the bold change and help Americans need and demand. Senate Democrats know America is hurting — help is on the way."
CBS News projects Warnock will win his race against GOP Senator Kelly Loeffler, but Ossoff's race remains too close to call. Ossoff held a slight lead as of Wednesday morning. Democrats need to win both seats to win control of the upper chamber.
Schumer said he is "so proud of both of their campaigns and excited to welcome them to the Senate."
"As Majority Leader, President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Harris will have a partner who is ready, willing and able to help achieve a forward-looking agenda and deliver help and bold change to the American people," the New York Democrat added. "For too long, much-needed help has been stalled or diluted by a Republican-led Senate and President Trump. That will change with a Democratic Senate, Democratic House, and a Democratic President. We will work every day to reward the faith that the American people have placed in us."
Jon Ossoff to Georgians: "I'll be for you"
Democrat Jon Ossoff declared victory over Republican incumbent Senator David Perdue in remarks delivered virtually Wednesday morning, though CBS News has not projected a winner in the race. Ossoff does, however, hold a slight edge over his GOP opponent.
"This campaign has been about health and jobs and justice for the people of this state, for all the people of this state, and they will be my guiding principles as I serve this state," he said.
Noting the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, Ossoff urged Georgians to "unite now to beat this" and vowed to support economic relief to both the state and the American people. He also offered thanks to Georgia who cast ballots in the runoff elections.
"Everybody who cast your ballot, everybody who put your faith and confidence in democracy's capacity to deliver the representation we deserve, whether you were for me or against me, I'll be for you," Ossoff said.
Exit polls show Warnock got strong support from Black voters and young voters
Exit polls show Raphael Warnock got strong support from Black voters and young voters. The 92% of the vote among Black voters is slightly higher than the 88% President-elect Joe Biden received in November. And while Mr. Biden won 56% of voters under age 30 in Georgia in November, Warnock won two-thirds of that vote.
Warnock won urban voters and did well in the Atlanta suburbs.
And more than half of voters who have experienced financial hardship due to the coronavirus backed Warnock over Loeffler.
CBS News projects Democrat Warnock wins his race
CBS News has projected that Raphael Warnock has won his race over incumbent Senator Kelly Loeffler.
The other race remained too close to call.
Republicans can keep the majority of the Senate if they can hold onto the other seat, while Democrats need to win them both.
"This is a game of inches," Loeffler says in speech about election
Senator Kelly Loeffler addressed supporters late Tuesday, though there has not yet been a call yet in her race against Raphael Warnock. CBS News has characterized the race as leaning toward Warnock.
"We've got some work to do here," Loeffler said. "This is a game of inches; we're going to win this election."
Loeffler also made reference to Wednesday's joint session of Congress, which will be tallying the Electoral College votes certified by the states. Loeffler, a close ally of President Trump, said she would continue "fighting."
Representative Jim Clyburn on the future for Democrats in Georgia
Votes continue to be counted in Georgia's two Senate runoff elections. For the first time in decades, Democrats have become competitive in the Peach State, which flipped to President-elect Joe Biden in the general election. South Carolina Representative Jim Clyburn joins CBSN's Elaine Quijano on "Red & Blue" to discuss his party's future in Georgia and across the country — and possible criminal charges for President Trump when he leaves office.
Warnock declares victory and promises to "work for all of Georgia"
Warnock, declaring victory in his race against Loeffler as Georgia's first Black senator, spoke of his heritage, and those who came before him. Warnock said his "roots are planted deeply in Georgia."
"We were told that we couldn't win this election," Warnock said. "But tonight we proved with hope, hard work and the people by our side, anything is possible. May my story be an inspiration to some young person who is trying to grasp and grab hold of the American dream."
CBS News characterizes the race as leaning toward Warnock but has not yet projected him as the winner. Early Wednesday morning, his lead over Loeffler was under 1 point.
The reverend said he knows the U.S. can beat the pandemic and strengthen the economy.
Warnock promised to "work for all of Georgia," regardless of whether a person voted for him. He spoke directly to those who didn't necessarily support him.
"I hear you, I see you, and every day I'm in the United States Senate, I will fight for you. I will fight for your family," he said.
Warnock race leans Democratic
CBS News projects the race between Loeffler and Warnock now leans Democratic, with Warnock narrowly leading Loeffler with 97% of votes tallied. Warnock is leading Loeffler by just over 30,000 votes.
Meanwhile, the other Senate race is still a toss-up, with Perdue leading Ossoff by just a few hundred votes.
Georgia Senate races characterized as toss-ups
As votes are slowly tabulated in the runoff elections for both of Georgia's Senate seats, CBS News have characterized the races as toss-ups. Democrats Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff are hoping to win and give their party control of the Senate while Republicans Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue are hoping to prevail and maintain the GOP's slim majority. CBS News senior national correspondent Mark Strassmann and CBS News chief congressional correspondent Nancy Cordes join "CBS Evening News" anchor and managing editor Norah O'Donnell in this CBS News Special Report.
How outcome of Georgia Senate runoffs could affect Biden's agenda
If both Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff can prevail in Tuesday's runoff election, Democrats would take control of the Senate. CBS News correspondent Nikole Killion joins CBSN's "Red & Blue" anchor Elaine Quijano to discuss how the outcome of these races could impact President-elect Joe Biden's chances of moving legislation through Congress.
Georgia Democrats expand voter base in longtime Republican stronghold
Georgia has long been seen as a Republican stronghold, but it flipped Democratic in the 2020 presidential election. CBS News associate producer LaCrai Mitchell joins CBSN's "Red & Blue" host Elaine Quijano to discuss how Democrats made the state a battleground.
Control of the Senate hangs in the balance as Georgia votes in runoffs
Democrats Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff are hoping to unseat Republican Senators Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue in the Georgia runoffs. The GOP needs just one win to hang onto control of the Senate. Mark Strassmann reports.
Heavily Democratic counties are still left to be counted
Although Loeffler and Perdue had a narrow lead as of 10:30 p.m., CBS News still rates both races as toss-ups. Vote totals from several heavily Democratic counties have yet to be counted, which could tip the races back into Warnock and Ossoff's favor. These counties include DeKalb County, which encompasses some of the Atlanta suburbs. Warnock and Ossoff have so far been performing well in metro areas, and are expected to do well in DeKalb County.
Fulton County elections official expects all ballots to be processed by the end of the night
The elections director for Fulton County, which encompasses Atlanta, told reporters on Tuesday evening that more than 70,000 people voted in person on Tuesday. Richard Barron said that of the 156,375 absentee ballot applications mailed out, the county has received 108,159 so far, not including drop boxes coming in or late mail.
Barron said there was more in-person early voting on Tuesday than in the November election, in part due to fewer days for early voting. He said he expects almost all ballots will be processed Tuesday night, and there will be a vote review panel meeting at 11 p.m. and at 9 a.m. on Wednesday.
How to watch the Georgia Senate runoff results
CBSN's Elaine Quijano will be anchoring a special episode of "Red & Blue" starting at 5 p.m. CBSN will also start broadcasting live starting at 7 p.m. when polls close, with CBSN political reporter Caitlin Huey-Burns reporting from Georgia.
CBS News director of elections and surveys Anthony Salvanto will also appear throughout the evening, as will CBS News chief Washington correspondent Major Garrett, CBS News chief congressional correspondent Nancy Cordes, CBS News political correspondents Ed O'Keefe and Nikole Killion and CBS News political reporters LaCrai Mitchell and Adam Brewster.
CBSN will also be speaking with local Georgia-based reporters as part of the "Local Matters" series.
How to watch the Georgia Senate runoff results
What: Georgia Senate runoff elections
Date: Tuesday, January 5
Polls close: 7 p.m. ET
"Red & Blue" preview coverage on CBSN: 5-7 p.m.
CBSN live coverage: 7 p.m.
Online stream: Live on CBSN in the player above and on your mobile or streaming device.
Cobb County Republican chair on Georgia Senate runoffs
Republican Senators Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue are hoping for a strong showing in the Atlanta suburbs. Jason Shepherd, the chairman of the Cobb County Republican Party, joined CBSN's "Red and Blue" to discuss the Georgia Senate runoffs.
Cobb County Democratic Party chair on Georgia Senate runoffs
Democrats need a major turnout in Cobb County, a suburb of Atlanta, to have success in the Georgia Senate runoffs. Jacquelyn Bettadapur, the chair of the Cobb County Democratic Party, joined CBSN's "Red and Blue" to discuss why she believes Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock will win.
Georgia Senate runoff vote count could extend beyond Election Day
Voters in Georgia's two Senate runoff elections which will decide which party controls the U.S. Senate for the beginning of the Biden administration. CBSN political reporter Caitlin Huey-Burns, CBS News chief congressional correspondent Nancy Cordes, CBS News political correspondent Ed O'Keefe, and Wall Street Journal national political reporter Josh Jamerson spoke to "Red and Blue" host Elaine Quijano about when to expect a clear picture of the outcome.
Georgia Senator Kelly Loeffler will object to count of Electoral College votes
Georgia Republican Senator Kelly Loeffler says she'll support President Trump's objections to the Electoral College vote. Loeffler is fighting to keep her seat in Georgia's runoff election Tuesday. Adam Murphy, an investigative reporter with CBS Atlanta affiliate WGCL, joins CBSN's "Red & Blue" with the latest from Loeffler's Election Day headquarters.
Voters are split on which party they want to control Congress, exit polls show
Exit polls show voters are split on which party they want to control the Senate. When voters were asked, 49% said they want the Republican Party to control Congress, and 48% want Democrats to control Congress.
Black voters make up roughly the same percentage of voters in the runoff races, according to exit polls. Black voters are 29% of the voting population in the special elections, compared to 28% in the Senate races in November. Ossoff and Warnock are running slightly ahead of President-elect Joe Biden with Black voters. In November, 88% of Black Georgia voters went for Biden, but 93% of Black voters cast their ballots for Osoff and Warnock, according to exit polling.
The electorate in the runoff elections is older than it was in November, which is unsurprising. Older voters are more likely to back Republicans.
What exit polls show about Georgia Senate runoff voters
The early results from CBS News' exit polls from Georgia's two Senate runoffs show an electorate with close to an even split between Republicans and Democrats, with a quarter of respondents identifying as independents. CBS News correspondent Nikole Killion and CBS News reporter Adam Brewster join CBSN's "Red & Blue" host Elaine Quijano to discuss what the early numbers reveal.
Polls close in Georgia
Polls in almost every county in Georgia closed at 7 p.m., meaning that election officials can now tally votes cast on Tuesday as well as absentee ballots. Although officials were not able to count the absentee ballots until after polls closed, they were able to prepare them to be tallied.
The state's top election official, Gabriel Sterling, tweeted on Tuesday evening that there could be over 220,000 absentee ballots outstanding. Sterling also told reporters that certain polling sites would remain open due to long lines.
House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn on Georgia Senate runoffs
Georgians could make history on Tuesday: If Rev. Raphael Warnock wins his Senate runoff election, he would be the state's first Black senator. House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn, a Democrat from South Carolina, joins CBSN's "Red & Blue" to discuss what these elections mean for the South, as well as how Democrats plan to navigate the next few weeks.
Majority of voters express confidence in today's vote count and say 2020 election was conducted fairly, but Republicans differ
Most Georgia voters (more than 7 in 10) are confident that the votes cast in this election will be counted accurately, but this number is down from the 84% who felt that way about the votes cast in November, early exit polls show, mostly due to a drop in confidence among Republican voters.
President Trump's challenges to the presidential election results may be contributing to declining confidence in the vote count among Republican voters. And President-elect Joe Biden's win in Georgia may have boosted Democrats' confidence in an accurate vote count.
Republicans voting in this election are less likely to be "very" confident than Republicans who cast ballots in the November presidential election. Just about 1 in 5 are "very" confident now compared to nearly half (46%) who felt that way in November. About 7 in 10 Democrats voting in this election are very confident in the results being counted accurately now, compared to a quarter who felt that way in November.
On the 2020 presidential election, a majority of Georgia voters think the presidential election in their state was conducted fairly, but Republican voters stand apart from Democrats and independents on this. About three-quarters of Republicans don't think the presidential election in Georgia was conducted fairly.
So far, early exit polls show that self-identified Republicans are making up a similar share of the vote as they did in November. While many of them express some skepticism about the votes being counted accurately, at this point, they are making up a similar share of the electorate as they did in November.
The coronavirus pandemic and its economic impact continue to be on many voters' minds. Voters in Georgia went to the polls with more than half (54%) saying they have experienced financial hardship due to the coronavirus pandemic.
As we've seen through the coronavirus pandemic, more Democrats voters are worried than Republican voters are about themselves or a family member getting the coronavirus.
Loeffler and Perdue warn that this will be a "very close election"
Loeffler and Perdue released a joint statement on Tuesday afternoon expressing optimism about the outcome of the race while also urging Georgians to get out and vote while the polls remain open.
"We are encouraged by reports of high voter turnout across the state – particularly so in North Georgia, where President Trump rallied Republicans last night. But make no mistake about it: this is going to a very close election and could come down to the difference of just a few votes in a few precincts across the state," the pair's statement said.
"We continue to encourage every Georgian to get out and vote and call, text, and email their friends, family, and neighbors to do the same. This generational election will be decided by the votes cast in the next few hours – no one should be sitting on the sidelines. Go Vote!" the statement continued.
What to expect from the Senate runoff races in Georgia
Voting is underway in Georgia for the runoff elections that will determine which party holds the majority in the U.S. Senate. CBS News political correspondent Ed O'Keefe and CBS News political director Caitlin Conant joined CBSN with a look at what to expect.
Georgia secretary of state says election is "running smoothly"
Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said in a statement on Tuesday afternoon that the election was "running smoothly," contradicting President Trump, who has sought to sow doubt about the voting process. According to Raffensperger, the wait time at the polls is around one minute throughout the state.
"After wait times averaging just 2 minutes on November 3rd, Georgia's election administration is hitting a new milestone for effectiveness and efficiency," Raffensperger said. "I have always said that after every election, half the people will be happy and half will be disappointed, but everyone should be confident in the reliability of the results."
The statement continued that the only reported issues in Columbia County were resolved by 10 a.m., and voting did not stop. Mr. Trump falsely claimed that polling machines in certain areas were not working in a tweet on Tuesday.
"In Columbia County, a small number of the keys that start up the paper-ballot scanners were programmed incorrectly. Additionally, a few poll worker cards were programmed incorrectly, meaning some poll workers were unable to start the touch screen voting machines used for paper-ballot voting. The correct keys and voter cards were delivered to the relevant precincts with a law enforcement escort. Issues were resolved by 10 a.m.," the statement said.
The early voting turnout — over 3 million have already cast ballots
Turnout has already set a record for a runoff election in the state, on the strength of early voting alone. Before voters hit the polls Tuesday, over 3 million ballots had already been cast in the runoffs. That includes approximately 2 million in-person and a million mail ballots.
Some 1.4 million mail ballots were requested, which includes over 350,000 that have not yet been returned. The vast majority of voters — over nine in 10 — are sticking with the way they voted in November, but we're seeing a small shift from voting by mail in November to voting in person this time around.
There's always a dropoff in turnout between general elections and runoffs, but the pace of early voting in Georgia's Senate runoffs has been tremendous and points to very high turnout, perhaps around 4 million total votes. In particular, Black voters have been outpacing other groups of voters.
Taking a closer look at the demographics and vote history of early voters, both parties have reasons for optimism:
About a third are Black — up three points from November early voting, which favors Democrats.
About a third are 65 or older— up six points from November early voting, which likely helps Republicans.
About three in 10 voted in the Democratic primary, while closer to two in 10 voted in the Republican primary.
Another reason for hope among Democrats is the over 100,000 early voters who didn't vote in the general election. It's a relatively small group — making up just 4% of all early runoff voters — but they're disproportionately young (six in ten are under 40) and Black (about four in ten).
Republican parts of the state have been lagging in early voting, which is evident at the precinct level. While that has likely contributed to a vote deficit for the Republican candidates to make up, it also points to possible upside today, since there are plenty more potential voters out there. While about 16% of Election-Day voters voted early for the runoffs, there are still over 900,000 out there who voted on Election Day in the general and may choose to do so again.
— Kabir Khanna
Georgia's top elections official says it's been "smooth election so far"
Gabriel Sterling, a top election official in Georgia, tweeted on Tuesday around noon that it had been a "smooth election so far."
"We are at about an average of 1 minute wait times. The longest we are aware of is about 20 minutes. Get out and vote. It's quick and easy," Sterling tweeted.