That deficit is what led AP to determine Wednesday that Warnock and Republican challenger Herschel Walker would be headed to a Dec. 6 runoff election.
Under Georgia law, if no candidate gets more than 50% of the vote in the general election, the Senate race will go to a runoff four weeks later between the top two vote-getters.
Vote counts on Tuesday showed Warnock nearing that number. But after totals from two of the four remaining Atlanta-area counties came in on Wednesday, and Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger noted that fewer than 10,000 votes overall were left to be counted, AP determined that the remaining votes wouldn’t be enough to give Warnock a majority.
Twin runoff elections in Georgia in early 2021 determined the balance of power in the U.S. Senate, with Warnock and fellow Democrat Jon Ossoff taking both seats.
For 2022, the presence of a third-party candidate in the race made it seem likely that, as the race tightened, it too would head to a runoff, with neither Warnock nor Walker — seeking to become only the second Black Republican member of the U.S. Senate — able to achieve a majority.
The closing stretch of the general election contest was rife with vitriol over Walker’s past, including accusations that the football star-turned-businessman encouraged a former girlfriend to have a 2009 abortion, for which he allegedly paid.
Avoiding attacks on Walker in the summer and early fall, Warnock stepped up his strikes in the closing weeks. Walker, who supports a national ban on abortion, called the allegations “foolishness.”