Turnout in Georgia Senate runoff elections surges past 2M votes

More than a quarter of all registered voters in Georgia have already cast a ballot in the crucial contests

More than 2 million Georgians have already voted in the state's twin Jan. 5 Senate runoff elections, where the Republican majority in the Senate is at stake.

The latest early voting numbers released Thursday morning by state officials indicate that more than a quarter (26.7%) of all registered voters in Georgia have already cast a ballot in the two contests.

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More than 1.3 million Georgians have cast a ballot through early in-person voting at polling stations that have been open for a week and a half, with more than 720,000 casting an absentee ballot.

With less than two weeks to go until the runoff elections, the high number of Georgians who have already voted in two Senate runoffs comes close to rivaling the early turnout at this point in the November general election. A record 4.9 million voters in the state cast ballots in the general election.

"It looks like it's going to be a fairly high turnout for a runoff election," M.V. Hood, a political science professor at the University of Georgia and director of the school's survey research center, told Fox News on Thursday. "People are energized."

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But Hood added that with the holidays upon us, "turnout's not going to reach the levels of the general election."

An Election Defender volunteer directs voters to an area where they can get free hand sanitizer and masks during early voting for the Senate runoff election at a recreation center Thursday, Dec. 17, 2020, in Powder Springs, Ga. (AP Photo/Todd Kirkland)

An Election Defender volunteer directs voters to an area where they can get free hand sanitizer and masks during early voting for the Senate runoff election at a recreation center Thursday, Dec. 17, 2020, in Powder Springs, Ga. (AP Photo/Todd Kirkland)

The balance of power for the next Senate coming out of last month's elections is 50 Republicans and 48 Democrats. This means Democrats must win both of Georgia's runoffs to make it a 50-50 Senate. If that occurs, Vice President-elect Kamala Harris would be the tie-breaking vote, giving her party a razor-thin majority in the chamber.

In Georgia, where state law dictates a runoff if no candidate reaches 50% of the vote, GOP Sen. David Perdue narrowly missed avoiding a runoff, winning 49.75% of the vote. Democratic challenger Jon Ossoff trailed by roughly 87,000 votes.

In the other race, Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler captured nearly 26% of the vote in a whopping 20-candidate special election to fill the final two years of the term of former GOP Sen. Johnny Isakson. Loeffler was appointed by Republican Gov. Brian Kemp after Isakson stepped down to due health reasons. Her opponent in the runoff, Democratic candidate Rev. Raphael Warnock, won nearly 33% of the vote in the special election.

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If the Democrats win both races, they would control both the Senate and the House as well as the White House.

Fox News' Remy Numa contributed to this report.