ATLANTA — As we get closer to the Election Day, the focus on Georgia becomes greater and greater. Not just because of how close the race for president is across the state, but also because of how close the races for U.S. Senate are.
“There’s certainly a lot of attention on Georgia’s election cycle,” said University of Georgia political science professor Trey Hood.
Georgia not only is leaning more and more to being a swing state, but both of the state’s U.S. Senate seats are up for grabs on Nov. 3.
“I think the fact that there’s two Senate races boosts that intensity in Georgia,” said University of North Georgia professor Glen Smith.
The two Senate races here are expected to be tight and they could shift the balance of power in Washington.
“It’s very hard to tell who’s ahead and who’s behind,” Hood said.
He told Channel 2′s Matt Johnson that we likely won’t know how everything with those races will pan out until January 2021.
The special election to replace former Sen. Johnny Isakson is expected to head to a runoff because of the 21 candidates in it.
“There would be all kinds of money that poured into the state after the election, there would be just saturation of the airwaves,” Hood said.
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It’s expected to feature sitting Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler or Rep. Doug Collins matched up against Democrat the Rev. Dr. Raphael Warnock.
The other senate race has the incumbent Republican Sen. David Perdue against Democratic challenger Jon Osoff.
Hood says any Democrat who wins a statewide race needs to follow the 30/30 rule.
“A Democrat in Georgia really needs to get 30% or more of the white vote approximately and 30% of the overall turnout needs to be comprised of the African American community,” Hood said.
Overall early voting turnout continues to break records in Georgia. Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger says early voting gives him confidence about preparing for Election Day.
“This three weeks of voting, you know with the system, is really given all the new poll workers, all the election officials additional time to become a proficient with that system to get ready for the big day. When you have that 12-hour period on Tuesday, Nov. 3, we’ll have 2 million folks show up to vote. We should be in great shape,” Raffensperger said.
About 22% of early voters did not vote in 2016, according to the nonpartisan website Georgiavotes.com.
A quarter of those voters are young voters. Nearly 40% of those early voters who didn’t vote in 2016 are either Black, Hispanic or Asian.
“It is quite possible that Georgians, and more specifically, young Georgians, and Georgia’s of color could be the deciding factor in who holds the majority in the United States Senate,” said Nse Ufot with the New Georgia Project.
Record turnout is expected in this presidential election year. But experts say voters are getting a sense of how important it is to turnout with two senate seats up for grabs in the same year.
“Typically, you have either one or none on the ballot that might excite people and give more to the polls,” said Georgia State University professor Jeffrey Lazarus.
Cox Media Group