This story has been updated with new developments. Polls closed at 7pm EST in Georgia's closely watched US Senate runoff election Tuesday. With around 70% of the vote counted, Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock had a very slight lead over Republican opponent Herschel Walker in unofficial results but the race was far too tight to call. Warnock had 50.2% to 49.8% for Walker with more than a quarter of votes still to be counted, the Washington Post reports. Turnout across the state was strong Tuesday, with no major problems reported. Some 1.9 million votes had already had been cast in early voting and by mail.
Walker awaited results Tuesday night at the College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta, while Warnock was in a hotel less than a mile away, reports the AP. Warnock had a big lead in early voting results, but the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that there were cheers at Walker's party when results showed him pulling level with Warnock. Analysts on both sides said results could be hours off. Democratic strategists said they were confident that Warnock would make big gains in the party strongholds of Clayton, DeKalb, and Fulton counties. The Journal-Constitution notes that "the metro Atlanta counties are notoriously slow at reporting vote totals."
Control of the Senate is not at stake, but a win for Warnock will give Democrats a little more room to maneuver in the Senate and a Walker win will leave the chamber split 50/50 again during the next Congress, with Vice President Kamala Harris casting the deciding vote, the Post reports. This is Georgia's third runoff Senate election over the last two years, Politico notes. Warnock received around 36,000 more votes than Walker in around 4 million votes cast in the November election, but with a Libertarian candidate also in the race, the Democrat didn't get more than 50% of the vote, triggering the runoff election. (More Election 2022 stories.)