Warnock gets fewer votes but wins!


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? 


  1. Statistics are hard for Somerby. He takes issue with the headline because Warnock had fewer votes, just as Walker did. The problem with this quibble is that the drop in votes for Walker was larger than the drop in votes by Warnock, expressed as a percentage of each candidate's total votes. Warnock retained 93% of his votes. Walker retained 90%. That is clearly a bigger drop for Walker than for Warnock, which makes the headline accurate. Somerby doesn't discuss how the third party candidate votes split, but my calculation assumes they split equally. They may have gone entirely to Walker, which would have made his overall loss of votes even greater.

    Somerby could have done this math. Why didn't he? He prefers to carp at the journalists, even when he has to make up an excuse to do so.

    "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."

    Is 93% significantly smaller than the number Warnock got originally? When statisticians use the word "significantly," it refers to statistical significance. It doesn't mean "considerably" or "slightly" or any such comparative term. It refers to the results of a significance test, which is determined using a formula to decide what size of difference between two numbers is meaningful and not due to random chance. As Somerby explained, turnout for a run-off is always smaller. Given that Warnock won the general election too, it is incorrect to imply that Warnock was not the voter's choice because his vote total decreased. Walker was even less the voter's choice and thus Warnock won the election -- no question about it.

    And then Somerby chides democracy, saying "Ain't mass democracy grand?" Now he seems to have allied himself with the democracy detractors on the right. Yes, voting can be inconvenient, but choosing our leaders is important, sufficiently so that people will stand in lines in cold weather. And yes, democracy is grand because it prevents the chaos of autocratic rulers who attempt coups when they have no good way of deciding who should lead. We aren't that kind of country, thank God!

    But Somerby's cynicism is out of place, discordant, in a supposed liberal. It even stinks as the reaction of a patriotic citizen. And there is nothing wrong with the headline or the statistics in this article.

  2. Funny, when Trump got fewer votes than Hillary Clinton in 2016 (and then lied his ass off about the results, as he would four years
    later) Bob had no problem with
    it. As we can now see, Bob will
    have no problem with any
    Trump victory or acquittal.

    1. He is sounding like he would have no problem setting aside the constitution, if he would set aside Georgia's voting laws because voting is inconvenient.

  3. The people in Georgia have enacted a law that requires a runoff when no candidate has more than 50%. The runoff eliminated the 3rd and lower vote-getters to clarify who was the preferred choice. That is how the people of Georgia have agreed to do things. So, yes, it is grand when voters get to choose how they selected their winners. That is what democracy is all about.

    Why is it any skin off Somerby's nose, given that he lives in Maryland? Recall that there is an ongoing scandal in Florida because someone was paid to split the vote as a third-party candidate, without being an actual candidate, drawing votes away from the Democrat (much as Jill Stein did in WI, which cost Hillary the Presidency). That is a dirty trick that would not succeed in a system like Georgia's.

    But Somerby has to make a snide comment, worthy of the right wing, which feels that any time it loses, something was not done right. Does Somerby make any argument against runoffs? Of course not. He apparently doesn't like the weather, or thinks lines are too long. These are old man gripes, and HE didn't even stand in line himself. But any chance to decrease voter turnout helps Republicans, including vague complaints about runoffs and voting twice, as if adults and citizens don't vote many times in their lives, as a duty of citizenship owed to those we share our democracy with, and to those who cannot vote but who live under the decisions we make.


  4. "...but standing in line for several hours almost surely isn't"

    ...and ain't it nice that dead voters don't have to...

  5. Somerby owes his readers an apology. He predicted that we would be inundated by a red wave, because we aren't nice to The Others, and because liberals are too woke and keep calling racists "racist" when they do racist things. But look what happened! Warnock beat Walker and that completed the humiliation of Trump and MAGA Republicans at the polls. Does Somerby acknowledge the victory? Not so far. And today, he pretends there is some statistical anomaly that makes democracy less grand. As if!

    Somerby, who complains about the use of statistics to bamboozle the unwary, tries to pull one over on his own readers by complaining about statistics in he press, when they have written nothing inaccurate or even "misleading," while Somerby tries to confuse with a specious argument. Look, look, he says, both numbers are smaller, so how could Warnock have beaten Walker? How stupid does Somerby think we are? Stupid enough to stay home because of long lines at the polls, while the Republicans pick our pockets, apparently.

    Somerby owes his readers an apology. First, for thinking we don't know basic math, and secondly, for thinking he can lie to us with impunity. After all, we aren't ALL Republicans here.

  6. Nothing wrong with mass democracy , Bobby, apart from the fact that Warnock had to beat Walker twice, the second time by three times the difference in percentage points. You might want to check your irony at the door, however, if you want to complain about misleading headlines under the title "Warnock gets fewer votes but wins". Hilarious.

  7. Glad to see Somerby being more honest about his right wing values; like all right wingers he cares about little else than owning the libs, but hilariously he does it with pitiful arguments that are always wrong, and are merely meant to manufacture ignorance among his fanboys.

    Sorry Somerby but put on your dunce hat, turns out being woke is good for Dems, contrary to your nonsense. Now go sit in the corner.

  8. To sum up this one, Bob has moved from chiding the
    Dems for not winning to chiding them for not winning by
    Oh, by the way, last week Trump said that because he
    didn't in 2000 we need to suspend the Constitution.
    And his friend Ye said the Holocaust never happened.