Atlanta, Nov 8 (EFE).- Economy, abortion and guns are some of the top-of-mind issues for voters heading to the polls Tuesday in the crucial swing state of Georgia, where once again a tight race could determine which party controls the United States Senate.
At first glance, uncrowded polling stations in Atlanta in the early morning hours might suggest lukewarm interest in that contest pitting former American football star Herschel Walker, a Republican and political rookie, against incumbent Democrat Raphael Warnock, a Christian pastor.
The optics are highly misleading, however, because many of the votes are already in, with Georgia officials saying a record total of more than 2.5 million in-person and absentee ballots had been cast as of last Friday.
All 435 seats in the House of Representatives and 34 of 100 seats in the Senate are up for grabs in the midterms.
These elections typically favor the party that is out of power, and the additional factors of high inflation and widespread economic discontent are leading some observers to predict that control of both chambers will shift from the Democrats to the GOP.
After voting at a school in an affluent area of Atlanta, 50-year-old Glen did not indicate how he voted but expressed concerns frequently voiced by Republicans.
“The most important thing for us here is crime,” he said, accompanied by his wife, adding that neither of them feel safe at night in the city.
“The economy is also important,” Glen said.
But Steven, a 26-year-old student and Democratic voter, said after voting at that same school that the choice for him was an easy one.
He said he voted for Democratic candidates for both the House and the Senate because he believes that abortion rights must be protected in the wake of the conservative-majority Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade and that stricter gun-control legislation is needed.
Although voters are most concerned about an annual inflation rate that came in at 8.2 percent in September, nearly a 40-year high, Steven said President Joe Biden is not to blame and that high consumer prices are the result of many factors, including Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Asked what will happen if Republicans take control of Congress, Steven said that would be “disappointing” but that voters have the democratic right to make their voices heard at the ballot box.
Few areas of the US serve as a better microcosm of the US’s extreme political polarization than Georgia, a state in which Biden edged then-incumbent President Donald Trump by a count of 2,473,633 to 2,461,854 in November 2020.
In that same general election, control of the US Senate came down to a pair of races in Georgia in which Democratic candidates – Warnock and Jon Ossoff – eventually claimed narrow victories in runoff contests held on Jan. 5, 2021.
Georgia once again is a major Senate battleground state, with the latest polls showing either a dead heat or Walker with a narrow lead over Warnock (whose win in 2020 allowed him to effectively serve out the term of a senator who had resigned for health reasons).
Ossoff will not be up for re-election until 2026.
Nationwide, polls point to Republicans comfortably wresting back control of the House. Meanwhile, the Senate – currently split 50-50, with Vice President Kamala Harris able to cast tie-breaking votes – will likely come down to the Georgia race and two other tight contests in Pennsylvania and Nevada.
Two former presidents – Barack Obama and Donald Trump – have taken to the campaign trail in the days leading up to the midterms, with the latter strongly hinting that he will announce his 2024 presidential bid in the coming days. EFE