More than 2.5 million Georgians have cast early votes, setting new record

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More than 2.5 million early votes have been cast in the battleground state of Georgia as the hotly contested Senate race between Democrat incumbent Senator Raphael Warnock and Republican candidate Herschel Walker enters its final days.

The previous early voting record for a midterm election was 2.1 million ballots cast either early in-person or by mail in 2018. This year’s election appears to have beaten that by approximately 20 per cent according to the Georgia secretary of state’s office.

In the 2020 presidential election, just over 4 million Georgians voted early.

NBC News’s early vote tracker shows 49 per cent of early voters in the state are Democrats, 41 per cent are Republican, and 10 per cent have another or no party affiliation.

Some 67 per cent of early voters are over the age of 50, and the gender split is 56 per cent women and 44 per cent men.

In-person voting accounts for 91 per cent of the early votes, with mail-in ballots accounting fo the remainder.

The Democratic Party hopes that having an edge in early voting in key states that will tip them over the line to win what has been a bitter contest in Georgia.

While there has been a drift toward the Democrats in recent years in the once-Republican stronghold, President Joe Biden’s low approval rating is feared to possibly be dragging down enthusiasm despite the state voting to elect him and Senator Warnock just two years ago.

Mr Warnock’s rival, former football star Herschel Walker, has been dogged by controversy for much of his campaign, yet still polls well, underlining the severity of the political divisions between the two main parties.

Mr Walker has focused on tying the incumbent senator to the president’s record, while his rival stresses his work to lower costs for Georgians and work in a bipartisan way to help the state.

The senator has also said Mr Walker is unqualified to hold office in Congress after allegations of partner abuse and pushing women to have an abortion, which the GOP candidate denies.

A total of 7.8 million people are registered to vote in Georgia. Democrats are hoping to retain those voters who came out for the Biden campaign in 2020 but acknowledge that a portion of that vote was against Donald Trump rather than specifically for Joe Biden.

Pollster Jeff Horwitt told NBC News: “That is the challenge. Because not all of the Biden vote in 2020 was for Biden — there was a component of that vote that was against Trump.”

As with many races in the 2022 election cycle, it is expected that the results will be determined by the level of turnout — can the GOP rally rural voters to the polls; can the Democrats foster enthusiasm in urban areas; and which way will the suburbs flip?

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