Senate elections expert discusses “toss up” Georgia race
Democrat Raphael Warnock is set to debate Republican Herschel Walker Oct. 14
WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - The Cook Political Report’s top Senate ratings expert says Georgia’s race for a U.S. Senate seat remains a “toss up.” This follows a controversial week for Republican candidate Herschel Walker, who is challenging Senator Raphael Warnock.
Gray Television Washington News Bureau’s David Ade sits down with Jessica Taylor, the Cook Political Report’s Senate and Governors Editor.
DA: So where do you see the Georgia Senate race standing right now?
JT: This is sort of a really true toss up. We really thought at the beginning of the cycle that just the probably pro-Republican environment that we typically see in a president’s first midterm election, especially when his party controls both the House and the Senate, that that backlash will probably be enough to help Walker. You have Warnock, though, that has kept things close. He has run ahead of where President Biden’s numbers are in Georgia. And we’ve seen a more neutral playing field and in a way emerge.
DA: So we’re sitting down doing this interview about a week after The Daily Beast report came out alleging that the pro-life candidate, Herschel Walker, paid for an abortion for his then-girlfriend, an allegation that Walker denies. But what kind of impact are you seeing that reporting have on this race?
JT: It’s too soon to sort of tell in polling. We’ve seen some snap polling, which I’m a little bit skeptical of, but we’ve seen a lot of Republicans still stand by him because even if he may have, you know, paid for this abortion or supported it in the past, they see him as someone who would be a vote against trying to codify Roe versus Wade, or for 15-weeks abortion ban, or something like that. Some sort of the positions to voters in sort of their different colored jerseys matter a little bit more than what may be in your past.
DA: So Senator Warnock and Herschel Walker are scheduled to have their first and only debate this Friday. What do each of them need to do in order to turn the race in their favor in these final three, four weeks.
JT: Unless there are big moments or big mistakes, really, I’m skeptical that debates can necessarily change things.
DA: When you look ahead to November, what are you expecting the outcome of this race to be?
JT: As we saw in 2020, if no candidate gets the 50%, that could send it into a runoff. Now that it’s been moved from January back to December, so we’re looking at December 6th for that. And sources I talked to on both Republican and Democratic side say they really think that’s increasingly likely, that they don’t see especially Walker with a path to 50 at this juncture. But keeping Warnock below that could be a possibility as well.
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