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Democrats Warnock and Ossoff pick up Georgia Senate seats: Exit poll analysis

Democrats secure Senate control with Georgia wins
Democrats secure Senate control with Georgia ... 08:00

Democrats Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff picked up two Senate seats in Georgia, and those victories won control of the U.S. Senate for their party. The two Democrats received strong support from key Democratic constituencies like Black voters and young voters and continued to make headway in areas like the Atlanta suburbs, exit polls show.

Voters in Georgia seemed well aware of what was at stake in this election: how they felt about the control of the Senate mirrored the tight contests, with half wanting Democratic control of the Senate and half wanting Republican control. 

Little changed from November, with nearly all of Joe Biden's voters supporting the Democratic contenders and nearly all of President Trump's supporters voting Republican. 

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As was the case two months ago, the electorate was divided starkly by race. At 29%, Black voters in Georgia made up a larger proportion of the electorate in the presidential election than they did in any other state where exit polls were conducted. In the Senate runoff elections, the proportion of the Black vote equaled that. Democrats Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock received over 90% of their support, which was even higher than the 88% who voted for Joe Biden in November. 

These Senate candidates also outperformed Biden with young voters. Ossoff and Warnock each got the support of two-thirds of voters under 30, compared to Biden's 56% in November. There was a small percentage of Georgia voters — about 2% — who said they did not vote in the presidential election and these voters went for the Democratic candidates by almost 2 to 1. 

Biden improved on Democratic candidates' past performance in suburban areas which was key to his victory and both Ossoff and Warnock continued that trend in the Atlanta suburbs.

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Just like November, seven in 10 White voters voted Republicans, including majorities of both White men and White women, and White voters of all age groups and education levels, and overwhelmingly by White evangelicals, who made up more than a third of all voters.

As Georgia voters cast their ballots, more than seven in 10 were confident that the votes in this election would be counted accurately, but that's down from the 84% who felt that way about the votes cast in last fall. 

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This was mostly due to a drop in confidence among Republican voters:  just about one in five Republicans were "very" confident votes would be counted accurately, compared to nearly half (46%) who felt that way in November. Meanwhile, Democratic confidence rose. About seven in 10 Democrats voting in this election were very confident in the results would be counted accurately, compared to a quarter who felt that way in November.  

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Partisans also had a different view of the presidential election in Georgia. Most Democrats said it was conducted fairly, while most Republicans said it was not. 

The coronavirus pandemic and its economic impact continue to be on many voters' minds. About two-thirds of voters who went to the polls in Georgia said they were worried that they or someone in their family would get the virus, and more than half said they have experienced financial hardship due to the coronavirus pandemic. Those voters who said they have experienced financial hardship due to the virus backed the Democratic candidates.  

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Overall more voters said it was more important to contain the coronavirus now, even if it meant hurting the economy, while slightly fewer — though including two-thirds of Republicans — said it was more important to rebuild the economy. And as was the case in the presidential election in November both in Georgia and across the country, views of the pandemic was an indication of vote choice. Those who wanted the coronavirus prioritized overwhelmingly cast votes for the Democratic candidates, while those who wanted the economy prioritized voted Republican.

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The CBS News exit poll surveyed 5,948 voters.  The survey included in-person interviews with Election Day voters, those at early voting locations and phone interviews that measured the views of absentee/by mail voters and early voters. The surveys were conducted by Edison Research on behalf of the National Election Pool. 

Exit poll percentages may have updated since this article was published. 

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