Georgia Governor’s Race: How Would a Runoff Election Work?

Georgia runoff

Getty If neither Stacey Abrams nor Brian Kemp receives over 50 percent of the vote on Tuesday, the election will go to a runoff in December.

The gubernatorial race in Georgia has shaped up to be one of the most hotly contested political battles of the 2018 midterms, with Democrat Stacey Abrams taking on GOP incumbent Brian Kemp.

Abrams and Kemp have been polling at a near dead lock for the last few weeks- and if neither of them gets at least 50 percent of the votes, the gubernatorial election might take another month to be determined, as a runoff election will take place in December. Libertarian Ted Metz is the third politician on the ballot.

Georgia has seen record-shattering numbers in early voting in the days leading up to Nov. 6. Here’s what you need to know about Georgia’s rules for gubernatorial elections.

Neither Kemp Nor Abrams Has Been Polling at Over 50 Percent of Votes in the Days Leading Up to the Election

Both Abrams and Kemp have been polling in the high forties with voters in the days leading up to the election. Though polls are, of course, nowhere near a guaranteed predictor of how an election turns out, they are often an accurate barometer for how close an election is- and this one is looking to be a tossup.

A recent poll by Channel 2 Action News and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution revealed Abrams and Kemp to be shockingly close to one another, with Abrams polling at 46.9 percent of the vote and Kemp at 46.7 percent; those numbers are well within the survey’s estimated three percent margin error, The Hill reported. 

There appears to be just one poll that has reflected either of the candidates to be over 50 percent with voters in the last week: a poll of 614 voters by Georgia-based Southern Majority, conducted by 20/20 insight, which revealed Abrams to have 50 percent of the vote compared to Kemp’s 46 percent. Unfortunately, a poll of only 614 people is hardly an accurate prediction for how the state of Georgia will vote on Tuesday. But if that poll does turn out to be correct, then Abrams will become the first African American women to be a United States governor.

If the Election Is Close Enough to Warrant a Runoff, It Will Be the First Runoff in Georgia’s History

According to Politico, this will be the first election to warrant a runoff in Georgia’s state history, if that does occur. What’s more, both candidates’ teams are reportedly preparing for that very outcome, which would mean another 28 days until the final election between the Kemp and Abrams on Dec. 4.

With that said, it’s very possible that either candidate could challenge the results of the election through legal recourse, especially given the reports of voter suppression in Georgia over the last few weeks, as well as a recent legal ruling by federal courts that forced the state of Georgia to allow several thousand naturalized U.S. citizens to cast their votes in the election.

Lauren Groh-Wargo, Abrams’ campaign manager, said in a statement to POLITICO, “The Stacey Abrams for governor campaign is firing on all cylinders to ensure we win outright on November 6th. But we also acknowledge that our opponent is the nation’s foremost architect of voter suppression and has already demonstrated his willingness to cheat his way to victory. By running a large scale GOTV operation, securing a robust legal team and making historic investments in voter protection to ensure every eligible voter can cast a ballot, our campaign is preparing for every scenario on election night and ready to fight for every vote.”

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