With Democrats officially regaining control of the Senate on Wednesday, Daily Kos Elections is pleased to release the results of Georgia’s Jan. 5 regular and special Senate runoffs, as well as the contest that same day for state Public Service Commission for each of the state's 14 congressional districts. To help you follow along, we’ve put together a sheet with the results of each of these contests, as well as the 2020 presidential race.
Raphael Warnock defeated appointed Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler 51.0-49.0 in a special election for the final two years of former Republican Sen. Johnny Isakson's term, while fellow Democrat Jon Ossoff beat Republican Sen. David Perdue by a slightly narrower 50.6-49.4 in the contest for a regular six-year term. At the same time, though, Republican incumbent Bubba McDonald won re-election to the Public Service Commission by fending off Democrat Daniel Blackman 50.4-49.6.
Warnock, Ossoff, and McDonald each won the same six Democratic-held House seats that now-President Joe Biden took two months before when he was winning 49.5-49.3, while the remaining eight Republican-controlled constituencies voted for all of the GOP's statewide candidates. However, there were some notable differences in how each of these four Democrats performed that we’ll briefly discuss.
Ossoff ran ahead of Biden’s November margin in 10 of the 14 seats, while Warnock outran Biden in 11, though in the runoffs, of course, there were no third-party candidates. The one seat where Warnock did better than Biden by margin but Ossoff didn’t is the Atlanta-based 5th District, which is held by freshman Democratic Rep. Nikema Williams, though the differences were extremely small.
Ossoff and Warnock’s biggest overperformance compared to Biden was in Democratic Rep. David Scott’s 13th District in the southwestern Atlanta suburbs, where the two ran about four to five points ahead of the top of the ticket. Interestingly, both Senate candidates also eclipsed Biden in the 7th District, a historically red seat in the northeast Atlanta area that Democrat Carolyn Bourdeaux flipped last year.
A bit surprisingly, both Ossoff and Warnock did a little better in the 7th than in Democratic Rep. Lucy McBath’s 6th District, another former conservative stronghold in the Atlanta suburbs that has swung hard to the left in recent years. This seat also represented the largest underperformance for both Senate candidates compared to Biden, just as it did in November, despite the fact that Ossoff ran in the famous 2017 special election here; on Jan. 5, Ossoff trailed Biden by six points and Warnock trailed him by five.
Warnock also ran ahead of Ossoff in all 14 congressional districts. The largest gap was in the 6th District, where, as noted just above, Warnock did two points better, while the smallest was in Republican Rep. Buddy Carter’s 1st District in the Savannah area, which saw almost no difference.
One important reason the two Democrats prevailed is that, while turnout unsurprisingly dropped from November to January in every congressional district, Team Blue was better able to mobilize its voters for the second round. As the map at the top of this post shows (you can find a larger version here), Perdue hemorrhaged votes in heavily Republican seats, while Ossoff’s drop-off was smaller in the very blue districts that ring Atlanta.
In fact, the site of Perdue's second-worst fall-off (by just a hair) was rural northwest Georgia's 14th District, the new home of notorious insurrectionist Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene—and the site of an election eve rally by a certain resident of Mar-a-Lago. There, in what should have been the heart of GOP country, Perdue's turnout plummeted 12.5%.
Turning briefly to the race for Public Service Commission, Blackman ran behind Biden in 11 districts. The largest source of Democratic downballot underperformance was again in the 6th District, which may indicate that this area still has plenty of voters who have turned against the GOP in presidential races but are still open to supporting Republicans in other races. Blackman’s best seat compared to Biden was, like Warnock's and Ossoff's, also the 13th District.