Nov 9, 2022 - News

Split screen Georgia elections

Brian Kemp, governor of Georgia, speaks during an election night rally in Atlanta, Georgia, US, on Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2022.

Governor Brian Kemp speaks during an election night rally in Atlanta on Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2022. Photo: Elijah Nouvelage/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The two races at the top of Georgians' ballots ended their nights very differently.

Driving the news: Incumbent Republican Gov. Brian Kemp claimed victory with a roughly 8-percentage point lead — far bigger than his 2018 victory. While the Senate race remains too close to call, it appears headed to a Dec. 6 runoff, according to deputy Secretary of State Gabriel Sterling.

  • Walker's campaign sent his supporters home around midnight.
  • When Warnock addressed his crowd shortly before 2am he said: "Whether it's later tonight or tomorrow, or four weeks from now, we will hear from the people of Georgia."

Why it matters: Even in a polarized political climate, these races have happened in split screen. The four candidates ran four different campaigns. Candidates of the same party rarely appeared together. And a significant portion of the nearly 4 million Georgia voters who cast ballots appears to have responded in kind.

Catch up quick: Kemp defeated a Trump-backed primary opponent. Walker, on the other hand, is a longtime Trump friend and endorsee. While Kemp highlighted conservative policies in his primary, his general election campaign has been more moderate, focusing largely on his decision to re-open the state’s economy during COVID.

  • Walker has spent more time talking about hot-button issues like abortion and "men in women's sports." He also has faced nearly a year of scrutiny and scandals.

The other side: While Stacey Abrams and Raphael Warnock are longtime allies, their campaigns too, diverged. Raphael Warnock is an incumbent who highlighted his bipartisan policy work repeatedly on the trail. Stacey Abrams, meanwhile, has been a national Democratic political star since her first 2018 bid.

What they're saying: "It looks like the reports of my political death have been greatly exaggerated," Kemp opened his victory speech.

  • “We may not have made it to the finish line but we ran that race,” Abrams said to her supporters. “And we know that running is what matters.”

Of note: Abrams called Kemp to concede around 11pm on election night. In 2018 she did not acknowledge Kemp’s victory for 10 days.

What we're watching: While the two Senate campaigns appear set to turn around and campaign in overtime, some Democrats wonder what kind of fallout will come in the wake of a Stacey Abrams campaign that spent nearly $100 million but lost by a far wider margin than 2018.


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