Presenting your Georgia runoff field guide

Presenting your Georgia runoff field guide

**Want FOX News Halftime Report in your inbox every day? Sign up here.**PRESENTING YOUR GEORGIA RUNOFF FIELD GUIDE
If it weren’t for a most peculiar set of circumstances, most Americans wouldn’t much care about who represents Georgia in the Senate.Today’s runoff elections between Republican Sens. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler and their respective Democratic challengers Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock wouldn’t make much of a ripple taken individually and as part of a national general election.But if Democrats can pull off an upset even more audacious than Joe Biden’s November victory in the Peach State and flip both seats from red to blue, the Blue Team will retake the Senate for the first time since 2014.You’d have to say Republicans are favored to win given the November results in which both of them were the top vote getters. But you’d also have to say that Democrats have been stunningly impressive at getting out the vote.  Previous Georgia runoffs have been defined by a slackening in Democratic turnout, setting up easy Republican wins. That’s not the case this time.Matters have been made even more complicated by the fact that Georgia is a centerpiece of President Trump’s effort to cling to power despite his defeat. His attacks on state officials and their conduct of elections has jeopardized Perdue and Loeffler’s chances in significant ways. Before the polls opened in Georgia this morning, something like three quarters of the votes in the two Senate runoff elections had already been cast.Based on what we know about the political proclivities of mail-in voters and those who vote early in person, we can assume that Democrats have dominated among the about 3.1 million votes that have already been cast.But what about today? We certainly expect that Republicans will account for the majority of those votes cast today before polls start closing at 7 pm ET. The control of the Senate will be determined, though, by the answer to two questions: Will there be enough voters and will the Republican share be high enough? As you watch the Fox News Channel’s special Georgia coverage, which kicks off at 6 pm ET, the biggest number will be the best one to keep an eye on: The higher the total turnout, the better the Republicans’ chances to hold on to the seats and the Senate.Since Republicans can expect to get more than 60 percent of Election Day votes, if turnout goes above the 4-million mark Mitch McConnell can probably pour himself a celebratory swig of Pappy Van Winkle’s.But you might also like to have a few other key holes through which to peek at the probable outcomes. You will find below three counties that describe the political reality of Georgia and what the candidates need to do to win.We wouldn’t wish boiled peanuts on anybody, so maybe just find yourself a Moonpie and a bottle of Coca-Cola and follow along as the votes come in. The Fox News Decision Desk is on the case. We will try to bring you a projection as soon as possible, but we will warn you that the chances of an early call are about as good as the Falcons winning the Super Bowl. Elections officials are on high alert given the accusations from Trump and his supporters of massive corruption. There will be a strong incentive for methodical counting and absolute accuracy.Plus, Georgia has never seen anything exactly like this. Georgia has used general election runoffs since the late 1960s and all have been low-turnout affairs. Not this time. So, whether it’s tonight, tomorrow or later this week, elections officials and forecasters are working in uncharted territory.DEKALB COUNTY
Population: 759,297
Ethnic makeup: Black or African American 54.8%, White 35.9%, Hispanic or Latino 8.5%
Median household income: $62,399
High school graduate or higher: 89.3 %
2020 Senate general election result: Ossoff 81.2%, Perdue 16.8%
2020 presidential vote: Biden 83.1%, Trump 15.8%Like its suburban sisters Gwinnett to the north and Cobb to the west, DeKalb County is Democratic. But unlike the other two, it has lots of experience in being on the blue team. No Republican presidential candidate has won the county since Ronald Reagan.But that doesn’t mean the county isn’t changing. The sprawling county takes in the east side of Atlanta and large numbers of African-American voters. But it also includes some of the swishiest suburbs anywhere in America. A drive through Druid Hills takes you down leafy lanes and past stunning mansions.With the explosive high-tech growth around Emory University and the Centers for Disease Control, DeKalb has also become a hotspot for young, highly educated affluent Georgians.That’s how Republicans have seen their share of the vote dwindle in DeKalb to dangerously low levels. The GOP doesn’t need to win in DeKalb but 16 percent of the vote in a county of three-quarters of a million people will not feed the bulldog.This is where Ossoff and Warnock need to bring their coalition of working-class Black voters together with these new suburbanites. The results will trickle in late like most of metro Atlanta, but if they stay above 80 percent, Democrats will be getting what they need here.CHEROKEE COUNTY
Population: 258,773
Ethnic makeup: White 87.4%, Black or African American 7.7%, Hispanic or Latino 11.1%
Median household income: $82,740
High school graduate or higher: 92.1%
2020 Senate general election result: Perdue 69.2%, Ossoff 27.8%
2020 presidential vote: Trump 68.8%, Biden 29.5%Follow Interstate 575 North out of the near-Atlanta suburbs north of the city and you will soon find yourself in Cherokee County – sprawling subdivisions and big-box shopping centers but also the edges of rural, agricultural Georgia. The term “exurb” has somewhat fallen out of vogue, but it sure fits Cherokee. To drive to central Atlanta from the county seat of Canton would be an hour or more in traffic, but for those who work on the north side of the city or in the office parks of Cobb County, Cherokee offers affordable housing and safe neighborhoods. It’s sprawl, y’all.That’s how Cherokee became the largest majority-Republican county in the state. As wealthier and more diverse inner suburbs have turned blue in recent years, Cherokee has stayed red. There were nearly three times as many ballots cast there in 2020 as there were in 2000, and while Republicans have stayed strong generally, Trump has underperformed recent GOP nominees.These are the voters that have Republicans worried. If Loeffler and Perdue run about as well as Gov. Brian Kemp did there in 2018 with 72 percent of the vote, they will be hitting their strides. If they slip under 70 percent like Trump did, they won’t be getting what they need out of their party’s largest stronghold.CLAY COUNTY
Population: 2,834
Ethnic makeup: Black or African American 60.4%, White 37.8%, Hispanic or Latino 1.7%
Median household income: $22,325
High school graduate or higher: 80%
2020 Senate general election result: Ossoff 52.8%, Perdue 45.7%
2020 presidential vote: Biden 55.1%, Trump 44.4%On the Chattahoochee River that separates Georgia and Alabama and about two hours northwest of Tallahassee, Fla. sits little Clay County. It is mostly Black, entirely rural and quite poor. It also hasn’t backed a Republican presidential candidate since 1972.Along with the many small, rural African-American counties across middle Georgia, Clay helped Democrats remain competitive in the Peach State long after the Blue Team had been wiped out in neighboring states. But not only are these communities shrinking, they aren’t as strongly Democratic as they once were. Biden did 10 points worse in Clay than Al Gore did 20 years before.That’s certainly attributable to shifts in the white minority, but still reflective of a challenge for Georgia Democrats. There is a line of African-American, Democratic counties stretching northeast from Clay up to Richmond County, home to Augusta, on the South Carolina border. Pay attention to the returns there.If Democrats have been able to hold on to their vote share in places like Clay County it will be good evidence that they have beaten the runoff curse of diminished Black turnout. If you see Democrats slacking, it will be evidence that the old rules still apply.Share your color commentary: Email us at [email protected] and please make sure to include your name and hometown.THE LATEST
Live updates: Voting underway in Georgia Senate runoffs – AJCBoth races remain toss-ups, GOP needs large turnout – Sabato’s Crystal Ball‘Democrats Hope Georgia Will Become The Next Virginia, But It Could End Up Being The Next North Carolina’ -FiveThirtyEightIn final rally Trump warns Dem Senate victory would lead to socialism – Fox NewsPro-GOP Georgia Battleground Fund raises $58 million in runoff showdowns – Fox NewsBiden tells Georgians ‘the power is literally in your hands’ in Atlanta rally – YahooBiden transition team bracing for defeat, ready to adjust ambitious plans – PoliticoChris Stirewalt is the politics editor for Fox News. Brianna McClelland contributed to this report. Want FOX News Halftime Report in your inbox every day? Sign up here. 

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