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Latest Updates From Georgia Senate Runoffs

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

Well, for more on today's election, we turn to Emma Hurt, political reporter with member station WABE here in Atlanta.

Hey, Emma.

EMMA HURT, BYLINE: Hi, Mary Louise.

KELLY: So set the scene for me. Where are you now? What's going on?

HURT: So technically, I'm outside the Republican watch party because the cell signal is so bad in there that you wouldn't be able to hear me.

KELLY: (Laughter).

HURT: But inside that party are several hundred people, Republican supporters, state lawmakers and a lot, a lot of TV cameras. But the governor, Governor Kemp, did speak, which was kind of a big deal because as we know, he's come under attack from the president and is not the most popular person in his party. But he got a warm reception from the crowd, so did former Governor Sonny Perdue. So the mood in there is cautious optimism still, but everybody's on edge.

KELLY: Yeah, watching, waiting. We do know the votes are coming in fast and furious. We are already at 2 million votes counted. What is jumping out at you from the results so far?

HURT: Yeah, we're actually almost 2.7 million now.

KELLY: OK.

HURT: And the Democrats do have a tiny bit of lead. And, you know, I'm scrolling down to the bottom of which counties have the most left - the most votes left, right? So we've got a lot of small Republican counties, but we do have some of these big metro Democratic-heavy counties like Cobb, Gwinnett and DeKalb that haven't gotten past 40% reporting yet, so that's a lot of votes there. So the question is, of all that's left among the Republican-leaning counties, including some of the ones in exurban Atlanta, are they going to be enough to counteract what is already a tiny Democratic lead?

KELLY: All right. All right, so a lot to watch there. Meanwhile, just how did today go? There were questions about whether there would be long lines, whether there might be a possible - you know, possibly chaos on Election Day. How did things actually go?

HURT: Yeah, things went really smoothly for the most part. There were some small issues. But largely, I think the secretary of state representatives said things were kind of boring, which is good. You know, that's what we want. So that's some good news for county election officials who've been working really hard to try to make sure that no pandemonium or nothing too bad happened as voters were trying to head to the polls today.

KELLY: Yeah, I know. I can report firsthand the polling station we stopped by - no lines, everything smooth. Everybody said they'd had no problem, in and out in five minutes.

HURT: Boring - great.

KELLY: Just - yeah, exactly. I know you were at one too where you were seeing similar things, so, you know, two polling stations out of many, many polling stations. But there you go. Just speak a little bit, Emma, in terms of Republicans. You talked about Governor Kemp not being the most popular guy in his party right now. This whole campaign by President Trump to say that there was fraud, to say that the election was rigged - these are unproven claims. There is no fact that we have dug up to support them, and yet it has managed to fracture the party. What are Georgia Republicans telling you about how they see the party's future when this election is over?

HURT: There's a lot of worried looks and a lot of worried tones when I ask that question because whether Republicans win this - these two races or not, that's one question. But the bigger question is, what happens to Republicans in Georgia and around the country, particularly in competitive states like Georgia, going forward when the president is really undercutting some of the people that used to be his top allies, including Governor Brian Kemp? If he supports someone against Governor Kemp in 2022, which he threatened to do and said he will do, what does that mean for Republicans' chances to win statewide in a very competitive environment?

KELLY: Yeah. And what about just historically red Georgia, the possibility of it turning pretty purple if one or both of these races end up going to the Democratic candidate - what impact would a Democratic victory in these races have on politics in Georgia?

HURT: Oh, man, you know, Democrats have been building toward this for a while. Their party sort of collapsed when the state flipped Republican about two decades ago. And so for Democrats, this would be big. I mean, Biden's victory already was important, but this would show them that their organizing has worked and their strategy has worked and that the state is changing towards them. And I think it would create these existential questions for Republicans about what their party is going forward. Is it the party of Trump or not? And if not, what is it?

KELLY: That is Emma Hurt of member station WABE here in Atlanta. We'll let you go head back inside and see how this Republican watch party is shaking out.

Thank you, Emma.

HURT: Thanks, Mary Louise. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.


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