I-TEAM: Following the money in the Senate runoff election
AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - Tuesday is election day in Georgia – again – as voters decide if they’ll send Sen. Raphael Warnock back to D.C.– or replace him with Republican Herschel Walker.
It’s down to the wire. On Monday, both candidates spent their days stumping for last-minute votes. Right now, the latest numbers show Warnock has a slight lead over Walker, but experts say Tuesday’s winner will ultimately depend on how many people show up to the polls. It’s no secret both sides have spent big bucks to try to get you there.
When our I-TEAM crunched the numbers, we found their campaigns raised more than $234 million. So where did they get all that cash?
Our I-TEAM followed the money. Most of that money led us right out of the state of Georgia which makes sense considering this race has national implications - even though it no longer determines the balance of power in the Senate.
After narrow wins in Arizona and Nevada, the democrats maintain their control but just barely. If Warnock wins, Democrats will have 51 seats.
If Walker wins, it will be 50-50 but the Vice President, who’s a democrat, breaks the tie.
So it’s still very close and both sides are banking on that seat.
MORE ELECTION COVERAGE:
- Warnock, Walker offer starkly different choice for Black voters
- What to watch in Tuesday’s Georgia Senate runoff election
- Warnock, Walker: Starkly different choices for Black voters
- Stats show Ga. Senate race could be within 1 percentage point
Even before it went to overtime, the Warnock-Walker senate show-down was already expensive.
Both campaigns, and outside groups, had already spent a staggering $262 million.
Looking at just cash alone, Georgia’s incumbent is giving everyone else a run for their money.
According to campaign finance data, he’s raised $175,692,201.28.
Even before the runoff, Senator Raphael Warnock raised more than $123 million, which is more than anyone else this election cycle.
Mark Kelly of Arizona was second and he wasn’t even close at $81,813,866.37 in total.
Herschel Walker has moved up to 4th place since the runoff with a total of $58,697,140.18.
But, before the runoff, he came in at number 13.
It is important to note, the majority of his campaign cash has been local.
He’s raised more than seven million raised in Georgia. That’s a whopping majority of his money according to the federal election commission considering Florida comes in second with more than $2 million.
As for Raphael Warnock, we found most of his money is west-coast money.
The Federal Election Commission lists Warnock as having raised more than 13 million dollars in California.
That’s almost twice as much as he raised in Georgia.
The I-TEAM crunched election data and found Warnock’s top donor overall was Alphabet, Inc – the parent company of Google.
In fact, five of his top 10 donors have their headquarters in the golden state including the University of California, Apple, Stanford University, and Kaiser Permanente.
The I-TEAM has also confirmed support from several Hollywood A-listers – including Steven Spielberg, Kerry Washington, Mark Ruffalo, and Jennifer Garner.
And while the jury’s still out if this kind of support actually helps or hurts Warnock, the same could be said for Herschel Walker’s biggest endorsement to date, former President Donald Trump.
Find your polling site:
Just last month, Trump said he has his sights set on Washington, too.
Senator Ted Cruz made the trip to Georgia to rally with Walker and Governor Brian Kemp fresh off his own re-election victory. He has publicly shown his support, too.
Walker has also secured 11th-hour funding from Susan B. Anthony pro-life America and its partner, Women Speak Out PAC with a one-million-dollar donation in support of Walker’s “pro-life position.”
Still, it pales in comparison to the seven-million-dollar donation the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee gave Warnock to help fund his fight in the runoff.
Paying for ads is a big part of the campaign expenses.
Check out a November 12th tweet from the ad-tracking firm “medium buying.”
We found six days into the runoff they reported: “already nearly $10 million in tv and radio ad spending had been booked.”
Almost a week later, that number had tripled to $31.2 million.
And as you’ve probably noticed, the ads did start out rather friendly, but as the race heated up – and the two became neck-and-neck, they started to really duke it out over the airwaves.
Then that fight carried over into campaign events. This war of words will finally come to an end if not Tuesday, then in the coming days.
As you head to the polls one last time – you have a choice between Georgia’s first black senator and the Republican party’s first black U.S. Senate nominee in Georgia. In a state where football is religion, Walker led the bulldogs to their national title in 1980, making him a hero.
Georgia is also home to civil rights heroes like Martin Luther King Jr.
Even when he was elected to the Senate, Warnock continued to preach at Ebenezer Baptist church which was MLK’s spiritual home. But success wasn’t handed to them.
Both came from humble beginnings, so they both say they know what it’s like to struggle. This is a fight to the finish and the outcome depends on you. The I-TEAM’s Will Rioux will cover the Walker campaign and Meredith Anderson will cover the Warnock campaign Tuesday.
Stay with News 12 for complete election coverage Tuesday.
Copyright 2022 WRDW/WAGT. All rights reserved.