Dec. 3, 2022 coverage of the Georgia runoff election

By Andrew Menezes, Matt Reed and Matt Meyer, CNN

Updated 2:19 p.m. ET, December 6, 2022
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5:53 p.m. ET, December 3, 2022

Our live coverage of the Georgia Senate runoff has ended for the day. You can read more here or scroll through the updates below.

5:28 p.m. ET, December 3, 2022

Warnock tells union members that essential workers should be paid "an essential wage"

From CNN's Eva McKend

Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock pledged Saturday to continue standing up for workers if reelected, telling Georgia AFL-CIO union members at an Atlanta rally that "you can't say you support the dignity of work without supporting the dignity of workers."

"Those things go hand in hand," he said.

Warnock recalled how his late father, a World War II veteran and pastor, spent his life welding by recycling broken cars.

"He insisted on working for himself to resist some of the indignities of Jim Crow segregation," he said. 

Saturday's speech was notably more worker- and labor-oriented than Warnock's traditional stump speech on the campaign trail.

"All of a sudden, we started hearing this term emerge in our lexicon about essential workers," he said. "I like that term essential workers. The pandemic helped us see things we should have seen before the pandemic. They are essential workers. Here’s my thing, if people are essential workers, then we ought to pay them an essential wage."
2:19 p.m. ET, December 6, 2022

Democrats stress importance of Georgia Senate race by pointing to party outliers 

From CNN's Shawna Mizelle, DJ Judd and Gregory Krieg

Former President Barack Obama speaks during a campaign rally for Sen. Raphael Warnock in Atlanta, Georgia, on Thursday, December 1.
Former President Barack Obama speaks during a campaign rally for Sen. Raphael Warnock in Atlanta, Georgia, on Thursday, December 1. (Elijah Nouvelage/Bloomberg/Getty Images)

Top Democratic leaders are driving home the importance of the upcoming Senate runoff election in Georgia by pointing out the difference an additional seat could make when members dissent from the party or the president's agenda.

Speaking at a Boston fundraiser for Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock on Friday, President Joe Biden acknowledged the hurdles Democrats have had to clear to pass legislation in an evenly divided Senate. He referenced West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin and alluded to Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, who have not always supported his agenda, telling the crowd, "The reason we need Warnock is we cannot have every vote hanging on a single thread.”

“Manchin is a good person, but he has different views, and he represents a different constituency than most of us do. Same with the senator from Arizona,” Biden said, per the press pool that was covering the off-camera event.

Opposition by Manchin delayed passage of Democrats' climate, health care and tax package, and he and Sinema have refused to support Democratic efforts to change the Senate's legislative filibuster rules to pass voting rights legislation.

Former President Barack Obama similarly warned Democrats on Thursday against becoming complacent in the final days of the Georgia runoff election.

"What's the difference between 50 and 51 (senators)?" Obama asked. "The answer is a lot."

"An extra senator gives Democrats more breathing room on important bills. It prevents one person from holding up everything. It also puts us in a better position a couple years from now when you've got another election and the Senate map is going to be tilted in the favor of Republicans," the former president said, warning that a potential future GOP supermajority could pass a federal abortion ban.

new CNN Poll conducted by SSRS showed Warnock with a narrow lead over Walker among Georgians likely to vote in the runoff election.

3:17 p.m. ET, December 3, 2022

More than 17,000 Georgia voters skipped Senate race in last month's general election

From CNN's Christopher Hickey and Nicholas Anastacio

CNN exit polls of Georgia voters show that the November general election was unusual in that more than 17,000 voters skipped the Senate race on the ballot but voted in the gubernatorial race that was won by Republican incumbent Brian Kemp.

“We aren’t entirely sure, but it is highly likely that those voters are probably Republicans,” said Amy Steigerwalt, a political science professor at Georgia State University.

There were also Kemp voters this year who crossed the aisle to vote for Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock and then voted for the rest of the Republican ticket, Steigerwalt said. Kemp received 2.1 million votes, roughly 200,000 more than Republican Senate nominee Herschel Walker.

For more on what data from last month's general election tells us about Georgia voters, click here.

2:24 p.m. ET, December 3, 2022

Latest Georgia runoff poll from CNN shows relevance of character, integrity

Analysis from CNN's Harry Enten

Many Democrats might be wondering how the Georgia Senate runoff is even close. Republican Herschel Walker’s campaign has suffered through a number of scandals, yet he still only narrowly trails Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock in our latest CNN/SSRS poll

It might lead some to offer the common refrain: “Nothing matters.” 

But the poll is an indication, in my mind, that candidate quality still matters when it comes to voter preferences. Walker would likely be ahead were it not for what voters see as his flaws as a candidate. 

For one thing, Walker is vastly underperforming the fundamentals baseline. President Joe Biden’s disapproval rating is 57% in Georgia, but Walker is at just 48% of the vote against 52% for Warnock, according to the CNN poll. 

Why this matters: Warnock has a 99-point lead among the 42% of voters who approve of Biden, but Walker only has a 67-point lead among those who disapprove of Biden.  

The reason Walker isn’t doing better among those who disapprove of Biden is simple: Voters who back Warnock while also disapproving of Biden simply don’t like Walker. His favorable rating among this group is a mere 5%. 

This looks a lot like a pre-runoff New York Times/Siena College poll. Although voters in that survey (like this one) slightly preferred Warnock, they also slightly preferred a Republican-controlled Senate.  

Indeed, voters in the CNN poll who said the candidates’ positions on the issues were more important than their character and integrity favored Walker by a 29-point margin. 

They were overwhelmed, however, by Warnock’s 49-point margin among those who said that character and integrity were more important.  

If Warnock ends up winning, it will be a sign that candidate quality still matters. That’s a lesson Republicans learned this year in a number of states, where Democratic candidates won despite Biden’s unpopularity.

2:53 p.m. ET, December 3, 2022

Joe Biden says Herschel Walker is "different breed" from other GOP senators

From CNN's DJ Judd

President Joe Biden delivers remarks at the White House on December 2.
President Joe Biden delivers remarks at the White House on December 2. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

President Joe Biden delivered remarks at a Boston fundraiser for Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock on Friday, telling a crowd of supporters that Warnock’s Republican opponent “is a different breed" from Republicans he dealt with while in the Senate.

“He doesn’t deserve to be in this race,” the president said, according to the media pool."

Biden’s comments about Herschel Walker were off-camera and covered by reporters traveling with him to Massachusetts.  

During his remarks, which lasted just over 20 minutes, Biden acknowledged the hurdles Democrats have had to clear to pass legislation in an evenly divided Senate.

“Manchin is a good person, but he has different views, and he represents a different constituency than most of us do. Same with the senator from Arizona,” he said, per the pool, referring to West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin and alluding to Arizona Sen. Krysten Sinema, who has not always supported Biden's agenda. “The reason we need Warnock is we cannot have every vote hanging on a single thread.” 

Biden joked that he’d remain a safeguard against a GOP-controlled House in the new Congress following his meeting this week with Congressional leadership.

“When Republicans came to see me, the future leadership in the House — they're telling me what they can do, what they were going to do, so I'm sitting at the desk and I just went like this with my pen and said ‘veto,’” Biden said.

The fundraiser took place in the home of Jim and Cathleen Stone. Jim Stone is the former chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. 

1:02 p.m. ET, December 3, 2022

What the November turnout data in Georgia tells us ahead of the Senate runoff

From CNN's Christopher Hickey and Nicholas Anastacio

A look at turnout data from the Georgia secretary of state’s office shows that midterm voters in the November general election in Georgia were older and Whiter than they have been in the past four elections, including the 2018 midterms.

Those voters tend to lean Republican. The fact that Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock not only forced a runoff but also narrowly led Republican opponent Herschel Walker in the first round of voting last month suggests he had the support of independent and some Republican voters, political scientists told CNN.

“The key to Warnock was that according to the exit polls, he won the independent vote by a pretty big margin,” said Alan Abramowitz, a political scientist at Emory University in Atlanta. “And that was enough to pull him through. In the runoff, I think he’ll need to do that as well.”

CNN exit polls of Georgia voters in the November election show that the share of independent voters shrank 4 percentage points compared with 2020. However, independent voters were 24% of the electorate, which Warnock won by 11 points, according to CNN exit polls.

Read more here.

12:26 p.m. ET, December 3, 2022

Georgia State Board of Elections to hold emergency meeting at 2:30 p.m. ET

From CNN's Dianne Gallagher

The Georgia State Board of Elections is holding an emergency meeting Saturday at 2:30 p.m. ET by phone. 

The reason for the meeting was listed as "Executive Session to Discuss Potential Litigation" on a public notice sent Saturday just before noon by the Elections Division of the Georgia Secretary of State. No further information was provided. 

CNN has reached out to the Georgia secretary of state for more details on the subject of the meeting.

2:48 p.m. ET, December 3, 2022

Georgia could be an early-voting state on the 2024 presidential nominating calendar

From CNN's Shawna Mizelle, Kate Sullivan and Ethan Cohen.

A person receives a sticker after voting on November 29, in Atlanta, Georgia.
A person receives a sticker after voting on November 29, in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Megan Varner/Reuters)

The Senate runoff in Georgia is yet to be decided, but some Democrats already have eyes on the state for 2024.

A proposal by President Joe Biden that would make Georgia an early-voting state in the 2024 presidential nominating calendar was approved by a Democratic National Committee panel on Friday.

The plan -- which was proposed in response to issues surrounding the 2020 Iowa caucuses and the lack of diversity in the state -- would make South Carolina the first state to hold a primary ahead of the 2024 election. Nevada and New Hampshire would go next a few days later, with both states voting on the same day; and then Georgia and Michigan would hold primaries before Super Tuesday.

The proposal by the DNC’s Rules and Bylaws Committee needs to be approved at a full DNC meeting, which will take place early next year, and states will still need to set their own primary dates.

Enacting the newly approved plan, however, could prove difficult since primary dates are set at the state level and each state has a different process.

Georgia's GOP secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger, is ultimately responsible for selecting a single date to hold both the Democratic and Republican primaries.

Keep reading here.