A historic Democratic sweep in Georgia’s U.S. Senate runoffs rested in large part on half a million voters who stayed home, and on black voters who did not, according to preliminary results.

With control of the Senate at stake, following unprecedented campaign spending and with both President Trump and President-elect Joe Biden rallying for support, fewer people voted across the state. Runoffs often draw fewer voters, and this time the drop from the November general election amounted to about one voter in eight.

But turnout in Republican strongholds dropped by more. And differences across the state highlight the key role of black voters who powered the sweep.

Republican turnout fell more than Democratic turnout in most regions

North

Georgia

Piedmont

South

Georgia

Black Belt

Atlanta

Suburbs

Atlanta

13k

16.7k

votes

fewer

16.3k

21.4k

21.3k

26.1k

46.5k

47.6k

48.1k

51.9k

52.3k

North Georgia had almost 75k fewer

Republican votes than in Nov. Democratic

votes only decreased by around 17k.

74.7k

North

Georgia

Piedmont

South

Georgia

Black Belt

Atlanta

Suburbs

Atlanta

13k

16.3k

16.7k

votes

fewer

21.3k

21.4k

26.1k

46.5k

47.6k

48.1k

51.9k

52.3k

North Georgia had almost 75k fewer Republican

votes than in Nov. Democratic votes only

decreased by around 17k.

74.7k

North

Georgia

Piedmont

South

Georgia

Black Belt

Atlanta

Suburbs

Atlanta

20k votes

fewer than

in Nov.

40k

60k

North Georgia had almost 75k fewer Republican

votes than in Nov. Democratic votes only

decreased by around 17k.

North

Georgia

Piedmont

South

Georgia

Black Belt

Atlanta

Suburbs

Atlanta

20k votes

fewer than

in Nov.

40k

60k

North Georgia had almost 75k fewer Republican

votes than in Nov. Democratic votes only

decreased by around 17k.

Across conservative North Georgia, the state region where only about seven percent of people are Black, Republican David Perdue, whose Senate term expired Sunday, won by 48 percentage points, the same as in November. But it was a weaker showing in votes because turnout dropped, by more than any other region the state.

Just to the south in the most heavily Democratic heart of the Atlanta metro area, where Blacks are a majority, turnout dropped the least, and so Atlanta gained influence in this runoff. Democratic challenger Jon Ossoff’s 55-point win in these three counties amounted to a half-million vote lead that resulted in a razor-thin victory.

How each region shifted since the Nov. 2020 election

Ossoff (D) won by

500K votes

Perdue (R) won

by 250K

250K

TIE

500K

Atlanta

Nov. 2020

margin

Jan. 2021

Atlanta

Suburbs

Black

Belt

North

Georgia

Piedmont

South Georgia

Ossoff (D) won by

500K votes

Perdue (R) won

by 250K

250K

TIE

500K

Atlanta

Nov. 2020

margin

Jan. 2021

Atlanta

Suburbs

Black Belt

North

Georgia

Piedmont

South Georgia

Ossoff (D) won by

500K votes

Perdue (R) won

by 250K

250K

TIE

500K

Atlanta

Nov. 2020

margin

Jan. 2021

Atlanta

Suburbs

Black Belt

North

Georgia

Piedmont

South Georgia

Ossoff (D) won by

500K votes

Perdue (R) won

by 250K

250K

TIE

500K

Atlanta

Nov. 2020

margin

Jan. 2021

Atlanta Suburbs

Black Belt

North

Georgia

Piedmont

South Georgia

Results updated at 9:43 a.m. ET

Results so far for the Senate seat now held by Republican Kelly Loeffler reflect a similar turnout pattern in the win for Democrat Raphael Warnock.

Looking for key factors that affected Georgia’s November Senate election and Tuesday’s runoff is complicated by their differences and their narrow margins. Besides the uneven drop in turnout, the Senate seat won by Warnock was a two-way race with Loeffler, while their inconclusive November matchup had many other candidates on the ballot.

In both Senate races, Republicans performed well across most of the state. In the large majority of Georgia counties that were won by President Trump in November, Republican Senate candidates won Tuesday by an average of just under 40 percentage points. But those counties include many with relatively few voters. And across the Trump counties, the turnout drop was a few percentage points steeper than in counties won in November by Biden. It’s unclear whether the decline in Republican voters was due to Trump not being on the ballot, or because some supporters turning against him.

The overall effect of the changes since Novembers was that Democratic-leaning areas and Black voters gained influence in close races. A slightly greater share of overall votes came from predominantly black precincts, and vote share for predominantly white precincts edged down by the same amount.

Circle sizes are scaled according to the vote margin

between Warnock and Loeffler in each precinct.

Fort Oglethorpe

Atlanta

Alpharetta

Athens

Atlanta

Augusta

College Park

Macon

Savannah

Columbus

Albany

Brunswick

Thomasville

Valdosta

Circle sizes are scaled according to the vote margin between Warnock and

Loeffler in each precinct.

Fort Oglethorpe

Atlanta

+4,733 votes

Rabun County

Canton

Alpharetta

Marietta

Athens

Sandy Springs

Atlanta

Augusta

College Park

Macon

Columbus

+2,570

votes

Savannah

Albany

Brunswick

Thomasville

Valdosta

Circle sizes are scaled according to the vote margin between Warnock and Loeffler in

each precinct.

Fort Oglethorpe

Atlanta

+4,733 votes

Rabun County

Canton

Alpharetta

Marietta

Athens

Sandy Springs

Atlanta

Augusta

College Park

Macon

Columbus

+2,570

votes

Savannah

Albany

Brunswick

Thomasville

Valdosta

In Peach County, a small metro county in central Georgia that voted both for Obama and for Trump for president, both Republican Senate candidates won by about 7 points, but the number of voters counted so far dropped by double digits compared to November’s Senate race.

Absentee and provisional ballots were still being counted on Wednesday, so turnout figures will increase. But so far, Trump counties are showing the highest turnout drops.

The patterns for the two Democratic wins were similar, and their winning margins so far differ by less than a point. Warnock, however, narrowly edged Ossoff, winning by a bit more or losing by a bit less across every region. While Warnock was declared the winner early Wednesday morning, it took until Wednesday afternoon for Ossoff’s projected victory.

The widest difference between margins for Warnock and Ossoff was in the Atlanta core. Warnock, the senior pastor at Atlanta’s Ebenezer Baptist Church, will be the state’s first Black senator.