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Early voting in Georgia shattered previous records

(SOUNDBITE OF MONTAGE)

JOHN FETTERMAN: Thank you, Pennsylvania. Thank you for so much.

MAURA HEALEY: Thank you to the people of Massachusetts.

SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS: Thank you, Arkansas.

STACEY ABRAMS: Thank you, Georgia. Thank you, Daddy.

DONALD TRUMP: It has been a very exciting night. We have some races that are hot and heavy, and we're all watching them here.

FETTERMAN: Health care is a fundamental human right. It saved my life, and it should all be there for you if you ever should need it.

MARCO RUBIO: And you know what we call people who are Black and white and Hispanic and Asian and are men and are women and come from other countries? You know what we call them in Florida? We call them Americans.

ABRAMS: And while we may not write the story today, there will always be another chapter.

RON DESANTIS: The people have delivered their verdict. Freedom is here to stay.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Some of the voices of the 2022 election on MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

And I'm Rachel Martin. Good morning. Votes from several states are still coming in at this hour, so control of the U.S. House and the Senate - still up in the air. Georgia is one of the states that we are waiting on and paying close attention to. We do know that Republican Governor Brian Kemp has won reelection there. He beat Democrat Stacey Abrams, who has conceded defeat. This was a rematch with the same outcome of the race four years ago. But we don't yet know who will win the race for the U.S. Senate in Georgia. It appears that the race between Democratic incumbent Raphael Warnock and his Republican challenger, Herschel Walker, is headed for a runoff. With us now, WABE's Sam Gringlas. He joins us from Atlanta. Good morning, Sam.

SAM GRINGLAS, BYLINE: Hey, Rachel.

MARTIN: So let's start with what we know, the governor's race between Brian Kemp and Stacey Abrams. What can you tell us there?

GRINGLAS: Well, Governor Kemp actually improved his margin over the race four years ago when they last went head to head. Abrams, as you mentioned, conceded defeat fairly early in the night. And this was actually a bit of a departure from the Senate race. As you mentioned, that race is way tighter and is still up in the air.

MARTIN: What did we hear from the candidates last night?

GRINGLAS: So I spent my night - well into the morning, actually - at Warnock headquarters in downtown Atlanta. And just about before 2 a.m., the senator came out for one last update of the night.

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RAPHAEL WARNOCK: I may be a little tired for now, but whether it's later tonight or tomorrow or four weeks from now, we will hear from the people of Georgia.

(APPLAUSE)

GRINGLAS: And, you know, this is what we heard from Herschel Walker, the Republican Senate nominee, too, gearing up for being in this for the long haul.

MARTIN: So what does that look like, a runoff, Sam? We should remind people, Raphael Warnock actually won this seat in a runoff election two years ago.

GRINGLAS: Yeah. So here in Georgia, if candidates do not top 50% of the vote, they end up in a runoff, which will be on December 6, four weeks from now. So, No. 1, that means four more weeks likely of campaigning if we end up in this runoff zone. That means tons of money, surrogates flooding into this state. And, you know, if it is like it was, you know, in the last cycle when control of the Senate hinges on Georgia - we don't know that yet - that's just going to amp up the intensity in this state.

MARTIN: But considering the margin by which Brian Kemp won that governor's race and how close the Senate race is - Warnock doing quite well - does that mean some voters chose a Republican for governor and a Democrat for Senate and split their vote?

GRINGLAS: Yeah, it absolutely does. And this is a dynamic that we were already starting to see play out in polls leading up to this race. And talking to voters on the trail, I met plenty of people who were kind of uncomfortable with Herschel Walker. He has a lot of baggage that comes with him as a candidate. And so they went ahead and split their ticket, something that we don't see a whole lot these days.

MARTIN: Will voters change their calculus in a runoff when their vote could end up determining the control of the U.S. Senate?

GRINGLAS: It's totally possible. And plus, you throw in the dynamic that, you know, former President Donald Trump is weighing announcing a bid for the presidency again and that's a whole nother factor to throw in that shakes up this race for another four weeks.

MARTIN: Right. OK, we'll wait on that final result from Georgia. Reporter Sam Gringlas from member station WABE in Atlanta, thanks, Sam.

GRINGLAS: Thanks, Rachel. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Rachel Martin is a host of Morning Edition, as well as NPR's morning news podcast Up First.
Sam Gringlas is a journalist at NPR's All Things Considered. In 2020, he helped cover the presidential election with NPR's Washington Desk and has also reported for NPR's business desk covering the workforce. He's produced and reported with NPR from across the country, as well as China and Mexico, covering topics like politics, trade, the environment, immigration and breaking news. He started as an intern at All Things Considered after graduating with a public policy degree from the University of Michigan, where he was the managing news editor at The Michigan Daily. He's a native Michigander.