Black voters and those under age 45 helped Democratic challenger Raphael Warnock unseat Republican incumbent U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler of Georgia after Tuesday's U.S. Senate runoff elections, while the race between Democrat Jon Ossoff and Republican incumbent Sen. David Perdue remains undecided.
Data from the Fox News Voter Analysis (FNVA), a survey of approximately 4,000 Georgians, show the contours of both races are largely similar -- and mirrored November’s presidential results. The Democratic coalition centered on Black voters (Ossoff +88 points and Warnock +88 points), moderates (+34 in both races), those under age 45 (+16 / +18 points) and suburban voters (+4 / +6 points). Blacks made up 32 percent of the runoff electorate, up from 29 percent in November.
President-elect Joe Biden, in his victory over President Trump, won support from Black voters by 86 points, voters under 45 by 13 points, and suburbanites by 12 points, helping him to become the first Democratic presidential candidate to win the Peach State since Bill Clinton in 1992.
White voters, particularly those without college degrees and those living in rural areas, were a major source of strength for the Republicans. Non-college Whites went for both Perdue and Loeffler by 58 points; the Republicans’ margins among rural Whites (+64 each) were even greater. Overall, Perdue won White voters by 46 points and Loeffler won them by 44 points, improving on President Trump’s 40 points in November.
Voters clearly saw the Georgia runoffs as a battle for control of the U.S. Senate. Most said which party controlled the Senate was an important factor -- if not the single most important factor -- to their vote.
Republican voters (69 percent) were more likely to say Senate control was the single most important factor to their vote than were Democratic voters (54 percent).
These Senate races showed that reaching out to potential voters can be key to victory -- especially in a runoff election. Both sides made extensive voter contact efforts. Fully 75 percent of voters were contacted on behalf of at least one candidate.
There was a lot of talk about Stacey Abrams’ get-out-the-vote "machine" and her efforts showed. The FNVA survey finds more voters report being contacted on behalf of Democratic candidates than Republican.
The goal of voter contact is an action by the voter. They might sign a pledge to vote, get help registering, or donate money. The Democrats got reactions from more voters than the Republicans did.
Black voters were much more likely than White voters to take at least one action in response to a political contact, 53% vs. 33%.
Biden took action, traveling to Georgia for a rally the day before the runoff, and his supporters came through for the Democrats. Almost all those who backed Biden in November also voted for Ossoff (96%) and Warnock (96%).
Georgia runoff voters had positive views of Biden (51% favorable vs. 47% unfavorable, for a net rating of +4 points). Trump’s marks, on the other hand, were net negative by 4 points.
Voters split their opinions on Perdue, 50% favorable to 46% unfavorable (+4), Warnock (+3), and Ossoff (even). Loeffler’s net favorability (-1) was a tick lower while former gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams came in a bit lower than Loeffler (-3).
Majorities see Ossoff (53%) and Warnock (52%) as someone who "cares about people like me." Slightly fewer feel that way about Perdue (48%) and Loeffler (45%).
Similarly, more describe the Democratic candidates as "honest and trustworthy" (50% for Ossoff and 52% for Warnock) than said the same about the Republicans (46% for Perdue, 44% for Loeffler).
Democrats attempted to paint both Republicans as self-interested and dishonest, raising accusations that the senators had engaged in insider stock trading to turn a profit from the coronavirus pandemic. These attacks were somewhat successful, as over half of runoff voters found the allegations concerning.
Republicans also had some success accusing their opponents of being extreme. About half said Ossoff (50%) and Warnock (52%) were too extreme in their political views, while fewer said the same about Perdue (40%) and Loeffler (42%).
In addition, as incumbents, the Republican candidates scored higher than their opponents on "having the right experience to serve effectively as senator" (64% for Perdue, 50% for Ossoff; 49% for Loeffler, 47% for Warnock).
The president and his allies sought to cast doubt on the accuracy and legitimacy of the November election, going so far as to attack Georgia Governor Brian Kemp and Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger -- both Republicans -- over their handling of the election. Perdue and Loeffler joined in, calling on Raffensperger to resign.
Runoff voters, however, did not take up the call. Majorities approve of Kemp and Raffensperger’s handling of the election and disapprove of how Trump handled it.
Nearly half of runoff voters felt Perdue (46%) and Loeffler (45%) supported Trump "about the right amount." More said they were too supportive (44% and 47%, respectively) than that they were not supportive enough (10%/9%).
Despite the assertions from the president, a majority of runoff voters were confident votes were counted accurately in the November election. Still, a sizable 38% minority disagrees.
Overall, six in 10 believe Biden was legitimately elected. Voters who backed Ossoff (98%) and Warnock (98%) were far more likely to say Biden was legitimately elected than Perdue (25%) and Loeffler (24%) voters were to say the president-elect was elected legitimately.
Top reasons for not voting included not liking politics generally, not liking the candidates, not knowing enough about the candidates, and concern about exposure to the coronavirus.
Georgia voters said the most important issues facing the country were the pandemic and the economy – followed distantly by health care and racism.
Those who saw the pandemic as the most important issue backed the Democratic candidates by wide margins -- but there was bipartisan agreement on several measures related to the pandemic. Majorities favored a mask mandate (74%) and thought Congress had done too much to help large corporations in response to the pandemic (52%).
Few felt Congress had done too much to help the little guy. Instead, roughly three-quarters said the government had done too little to help individuals (72%) and small businesses (73%).
Economy voters went Republican by wide margins (+60 for Perdue, +58 for Loeffler).
The FNVA is a survey of the American electorate conducted by NORC (National Opinion Research Center) at the University of Chicago for Fox News and The Associated Press. The survey of approximately 4,000 Georgians was conducted Dec. 28-Jan. 5, concluding at the end of voting on Tuesday. It combines interviews with a random sample of registered voters drawn from state voter files with self-identified registered voters selected using nonprobability approaches. The margin of sampling error for voters is estimated to be plus or minus 2.3 percentage points.
Fox News’ Victoria Balara and Sarah Tower-Richardi of Beacon Research contributed to this report.