Georgia’s election results showed an increased political divide among rural and urban voters. Neither U.S. Democratic Senator Raphael Warnock nor Republican challenger Herschel Walker won a simple majority of the vote, so the contest will result in a runoff election. 

Statewide, Warnock led the race by less than 1 percentage point. But the margins were skewed Democratic in Atlanta’s large metropolitan area and Republican in small metro and rural counties.

The Voting Divide Between Urban and Rural Georgia

Republican Walker won rural counties by 41 points but lost to Warnock by a similar amount (49 percentage points) in Atlanta. 

The division grew since last year’s special elections between Jon Osoff (D) and David Perdue(R), and Warnock (D) and Kelly Loefller(R). The margins increased in every county type since 2021, but most severely in rural counties, which became more Republican, and Atlanta, which became more Democratic. 

In 2021, the Republican candidates won by 39 percentage points in rural counties, but lost by 43 percentage points in large cities. The difference between the winning and losing candidates increased by 2 percentage points in rural Georgia and increased by 6 percentage points in large cities between 2021 and 2022.

The margins were the least pronounced in the Atlanta suburbs  but still increased by 1 percentage point between 2021 and 2022. 

Democrats Lost Votes in Rural Georgia Compared to Previous Elections

A similar trend was evident when the Daily Yonder compared the 2022 Senate race with the presidential vote in Georgia in 2020.The Democrats’ share of the rural vote in the 2022 Senate race dropped in rural counties compared to the 2020 presidential contest.  Warnock’s share of the rural vote was  1.4% lower than Biden’s share in 2020. In the central counties of Atlanta,  however, Warnock gained 1% more votes than Biden.

The opposite was true for Republicans. Walker’s share of the Atlanta vote fell  1.5% compared to Donald Trump in 2020. Walker’s share  of the rural vote grew by a modest 0.6% compared to Trump.

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