WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 7, 2022
Georgia's runoff system: In a new report, the Washington Post describes a peculiarity of Georgia's runoff election system.
The report may be a bit misleading. That's especially true of its headline:
Drop in Republican turnout means a bigger win for Warnock
Democrats padded their Senate majority on Tuesday night thanks in part to a rebuke of the Republican candidate in Georgia’s suburbs.
Turnout was somewhat lower in Tuesday’s runoff than in the November general election, by about 400,000 voters, but Sen. Raphael G. Warnock (D) more than doubled his lead over Republican Herschel Walker. The Democrat led by about 95,000 votes as of Wednesday, besting his 37,000-vote margin in the general election.
Both candidates fought to get voters back to the polls just a month after the Nov. 8 general election. Runoff elections, triggered when no candidate receives more than 50 percent, regularly have lower turnout. About 3.5 million voters showed up for the runoff versus 3.9 million in November’s general election.
The headline refers to a "drop in Republican turnout." This drop in turnout is described as "a rebuke of the Republican candidate."
That said, there was a drop in Democratic turnout in the runoff election too! Below, you see the results from November's original election, followed by the results from last night's second round:
November general election:
Warnock: 1,946,117 votes (49.4%)
Walker: 1,908,442 votes (48.5%)
Oliver: 81,365 votes (2/07%)
December runoff election:
Warnock: 1,814,827 (51.35%)
Walker: 1,719,376 (48.65%)
As you can see, Walker got many fewer votes last night than he got in November. But Warnock got fewer votes too! This represents an obvious downside to Georgia's runoff system.
It's just as the Post explains. Under Georgia law, if no one gets 50% of the vote in the November general election, a runoff must be held between the two top candidates.
Back in November, Warnock received just under 50% of the total votes—and so the voters of the state had to go through the whole rigamarole all over again.
Rather, a smaller number of the state's voters went through the process again. Walker's total dropped by almost 200,000 votes—but Warnock's total was also down, by well over 100,000 votes.
Absent the possibly misleading headline, it's exactly as the Post reports:
For various wholly predictable reasons, 400,000 fewer voters went out to the polls the second time around. Love may be better the second time around, but standing in line for several hours almost surely isn't.
At any rate, Warnock was elected to office last night by a significantly smaller number of voters, as compared to the number who voted for him in November.
People stood in line for hours in November, then had to do so all over again. Almost half a million fewer showed up. Ain't mass democracy grand?