All You Need to Know About the Georgia Runoff Election


Benjamin Zumbrunnen

This map of Georgia shows the urban centers of the state, including Atlanta and Savannah. These urban areas were crucial to Warnock’s victory.

Benjamin Zumbrunnen and Mawuenam Dossa

On Tuesday Nov. 8, the United States held its 2022 Midterm Election, deciding key House, Senate and gubernatorial seats. But after all the votes were counted, the state of Georgia had a problem. None of the candidates for the Senate had reached a majority.

The state’s incumbent senator, Raphael Warnock (D), received the most votes, with 49.4 percent of voters in Georgia giving him their support. His main opponent, Herschel Walker (R), received 48.5 percent of the votes. The remaining 2.1 percent went to Chase Oliver, a member of the Libertarian party. As no candidate received a majority (over 50 percent) of the vote, no winner could be determined. But Georgia still needed to elect a senator. The solution: a runoff election, to be held on Dec. 6, 2022. 

Runoff elections happen in situations like this, where no winner can be called. The two candidates who receive the most votes, in this case Warnock and Walker, move on to the runoff. With only two candidates, someone will win the majority and a winner will be determined.

With any election, knowing your candidates is vital. The rapidity of this election’s turnaround from midterm to runoff produced a massive advertising campaign in Georgia that attempted to garner the support of voters who did not have a background on both candidates. 

Senator Warnock was born in Savannah, Georgia, where he grew up with his parents and eleven siblings. Warnock graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from Morehouse College in 1991 and subsequently earned a Master of Divinity degree from New York City’s Union Theological Seminary. Warnock also obtained a Master of Philosophy and Doctor of Philosophy degree, preaching as the Ebenezer Baptist Church’s Senior Pastor for over 16 years before he was elected to the Senate. 

On Jan. 5, 2021, Warnock was elected to the Senate in a runoff election, and he became the first African American to be elected as a United States Senator from Georgia. Warnock is an advocate for voting rights, ending poverty, criminal justice reform and climate change. 

Walker is also a Georgia native, born March 3, 1962, in Wrightsville, Georgia. He graduated from Johnson County High School while bringing both its track and football teams to state championships. Walker helped the University of Georgia Bulldogs win the national championship as a freshman in 1980 and later went on to win a 1982 Heisman trophy after setting ten NCAA and fifteen SEC records. His athletic record does not end there; he earned his fifth-degree black belt and was an Olympic bobsledder in 1992. 

Walker also owns two successful businesses in the food and service industry. Struggling with dissociative identity disorder, Walker has worked to remove stigmas around mental health. His political career started by meeting with congress as chair of the President’s Council on Sports, Fitness and Nutrition under President Donald J. Trump. 

The Georgia runoff election was held on Dec. 6, 2022. Walker and Warnock faced off for the position of Senator for the state of Georgia. After all the votes were counted, Warnock came out with a 2.8 percent or 96,803-vote lead over Walker, narrowly winning the election.

Warnock, a Democrat, won mostly urban counties, whereas most of the rural, less populated counties voted for Walker. This is a pattern that is seen in counties nationwide. In the Georgian Senate elections, a majority of counties actually voted Republican, a statistic that is expected. Georgia’s state politics are dominated by Republicans. Georgia’s Governor and Lieutenant Governor are both Republicans. With a Republican dominated State House, Warnock is one of the few Democratic wins in Georgia this election.

With Warnock’s victory, the Democrats now have a crucial majority in the Senate and will no longer rely on tiebreaker votes from Vice President Kamala Harris. This majority will be maintained until the next senate election in 2024 and will allow Democrats to pass legislation that suits their party’s interests without the need for Republican support. Despite this Senate majority, a Republican controlled house will still cause difficulties for Democratic legislation.