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It wasn't my fault. The sun was in my eyes.

Hey, every once in a while, I get it wrong. Way wrong! I expected a red wave of sorts. But it's not my fault, I was distracted by by my vacation in the Smoky Mountains. Did I mention I'm back to sniffing glue? I know you're disappointed. Wondering if you can still trust my judgment. Nope, never could never will.

Oh yes, I think Walker's going to win by picking up the 2% swing vote the Libertarian received. That is unless he doesn't.

Can Walker string ten words together? No, but that's not important.

On to Georgia

by Ian Prasad Philibrick, NY Times

Democrats sealed control of the U.S. Senate last night when the incumbent Catherine Cortez Masto won a close race in Nevada to give the party 50 seats in the chamber, with Vice President Kamala Harris as the tiebreaking vote. Democrats could still gain a true majority in the Senate, depending on the outcome of the race in Georgia. “It’s always better at 51,” President Biden said.

The Georgia contest is headed to a runoff between Raphael Warnock, the Democratic incumbent, and Herschel Walker, a Donald Trump-endorsed former football star, after neither won a majority of votes on Election Day. I asked my colleague Maya King, who’s based in Atlanta and reported on the race, what comes next.

Ian: Now that Senate control is no longer on the line, do you expect both parties to go all out in the runoff?

Maya: Republicans put in a lot of money and manpower down here ahead of Election Day, with senators and other national figures descending on Georgia in the past few weeks. But now that Democrats have won the Senate, that may dissuade Republicans from putting so much behind Walker in the runoff. There are a lot of conservatives who wanted Republicans to control the Senate but are embarrassed by Walker, who has been a source of scandal in this election, and may feel less pressure to turn out. For Democrats, it will depend on how passionate they are about re-electing Warnock and winning a 51st Senate seat. They’ll probably send a few of their best surrogates, like Barack Obama, down here as well.

What are the big issues in the contest?

National issues — inflation, the economy and crime — have animated the race. Walker’s argument has been that Warnock votes with President Biden 96 percent of the time. Warnock has tried to use his record to his advantage. Warnock, a pastor, talks a lot about writing legislation to lower insulin costs and bipartisan bills he’s co-sponsored with Republicans. He has more directly targeted moderate and independent voters, whose support he feels he needs to beat Walker. Abortion has also been a significant issue, though more because of Walker’s personal scandals. Two women have accused him of urging them to have abortions years ago.

Candidate quality has been a theme in this election. What will it mean if Walker wins the runoff?

For a lot of African Americans, Walker puts on display a lot of the worst stereotypes that white conservatives in the South harbor toward them: that his talents are only in athletics, and that he is, in his own telling, “not that smart.” If a candidate as controversial as Walker wins, the takeaway will be that if you have enough star power, speak the language of the party’s base and have Trump’s backing, you too can be in the Senate.

I was with Walker about three weeks ago in a heavily conservative, heavily white northern Georgia county. When I follow Walker to those kinds of events, we’re really the only two African Americans there. A white man walked up to me and was like, “Where are all the Black people?” He seemed to understand that Walker was a Black candidate who was not garnering much Black support in a state where you actually need at least a little bit to win. I’ve even talked to Black conservatives who are shaking their heads in disappointment. Though not on the record, of course.

Georgia had two big elections on Tuesday: the Senate contest and the governor’s race, won by the Republican incumbent, Brian Kemp. What was Election Day like for you?

I was ripping and running up and down Interstate 85. Kemp and Walker held their watch parties at different event spaces by the Atlanta Braves’ stadium. At Kemp’s, things were lively: loud music and happy people drinking. At Walker’s party, the atmosphere was nervous energy. By the end of the night, instead of drinks flowing, it smelled freshly of coffee. People were ready to pull an all-nighter.

After that, with the Senate race still up in the air, I headed to Warnock’s party. A couple of my friends in the press pool and I got a late dinner at Waffle House, and I made it home around 3 a.m. So it was quite a night.

I imagine many Georgians — the candidates, campaign staffers, voters, reporters — are exhausted.

Everyone’s tired. What I’ve heard ahead of the runoff is more than just, Oh, gosh, we have to do this again. It’s, Oh, gosh, we have to do this again over Thanksgiving, at the beginning of the holiday season. There are concerns about the logistics of it all.

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