Georgia governor race still considered toss-up
- As polls close in Georgia, Democrat Stacey Abrams is locked in a tight battle with Republican Brian Kemp that will determine whether she will become the first black female governor in the history of the United States.
- CBS News estimates the race is a toss-up as of 7 p.m.
- Not surprisingly, exit polls show that race is playing a significant role in the election. Black voters comprise about 30 percent of the electorate and whites 60 percent — figures similar to recent elections. Abrams is winning the bulk of black votes (92 percent) and Kemp is up big among white voters (74 percent).
- While she is not the favorite of white voters, Abrams is nevertheless performing slightly better among whites than Hillary Clinton did in 2016, garnering 26 percent compared to Clinton’s 21 percent. The difference is even starker among white, college educated women. This year, nearly half are supporting Abrams, compared to only about one-third for Clinton.
- Although the electorate is Georgia is fairly conservative, only 40 percent say that Abrams is too liberal, with about half viewing her issue positions as neither too liberal or too conservative.
- The race has been in some ways a referendum on President Trump and his policies, and a test of the diverse, progressive Democratic coalition that helped elect former President Barack Obama.
- Abrams, the former minority leader of the state’s House of Representatives, and Kemp, the current Georgia secretary of state, have been locked in a close race for months. The contest has attracted national attention, as Mr. Obama and Oprah Winfrey campaigned with Abrams and Mr. Trump held a rally with Kemp. To make the rally, Kemp skipped a debate with Abrams.
- Democrats accuse Kemp, who is in charge of overseeing elections in the state, of disenfranchising voters. And in the lead-up to Election Day, Kemp’s office leveled a vague accusation of “potential cyber crimes” at Georgia Democrats. Kemp did not provide evidence to back up the charge, however, and Democrats dismissed the move as an 11th-hour stunt.
- Georgia has had a Republican governor since 2003, and the state has voted for the GOP in presidential elections since 1992. But political experts tend to believe that Georgia is likely to become more Democratic due to changing demographics, particularly in the Atlanta area.
Georgia governor race latest news and live election results below:
What to watch for
The big question in Georgia is whether a progressive Democrat like Abrams can win in a state that’s been so consistently Republican in recent decades. Georgia last elected a Democratic governor in 1998, and hasn’t elected a Democratic U.S. Senator since 1996.
Abrams, a graduate of Yale Law School, gained a reputation as a pragmatic dealmaker during her tenure in the statehouse. But she’s running as a tried-and-true liberal who favors gun control and abortion rights, which may prove to be a tough sell in much of Georgia.
Kemp, meanwhile, is running as a Republican in the Trump mold. “I’ve got a big truck,” he bragged in one campaign ad during the GOP primary, “just in case I need to round up criminal illegals and take them home myself.”
In previous years, that contrast in messaging might have given Kemp a decisive edge. But the explosive growth of the diverse Atlanta metropolitan area in recent years, and Mr. Trump’s low approval ratings among college-educated whites, point to a state that is quickly becoming competitive again.
Are polls closed in Georgia?
Polls closed in Georgia at 7 p.m. ET. However, any voters in line to vote before 7 p.m. will still be able to cast a ballot.
A Superior Court judge ordered three polling places in Gwinnett County, in the Atlanta suburbs, to extend their hours due to earlier problems with the instructions on some provisional ballots. The longest extension keeps the Annistown Precinct open until 9:25 p.m. ET.
Poll workers now begin the process of closing down machines to tally the results and send them to the state election commission.