Raphael Warnock, left, and Herschel Walker

Democratic U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock and Republican challenger Herschel Walker will square off in a Dec. 6 runoff that could decide whether the Senate will continue to be controlled by Democrats or whether the GOP wins a majority.

With 100% of precincts across Georgia reporting results by Wednesday afternoon, it had become clear neither Warnock nor Walker would exceed the 50%-plus-one threshold required under state law to avoid a runoff.

Warnock holds a narrow lead with 49.4% of the vote to 48.5% for Walker. Libertarian Chase Oliver has just less than 2.1% of the vote, enough to keep the two major-party candidates from winning the election outright on Tuesday.

“There’s just not enough numbers out there to change the outcome of this race,” Gabriel Sterling, elections manager for the Georgia secretary of state’s office, told CNN Wednesday.

Sterling said the office already is starting to design runoff ballots to be delivered to all 159 counties in Georgia by the beginning of next week.

He said Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger is planning for a minimum of five early voting days ahead of the runoff and setting aside a weekend early voting day for Saturday, Nov. 26.

“It’s really about getting all the parts lined up … so voters can make their voices heard on that Dec. 6 runoff,” Sterling said.

Warnock is no stranger to runoffs, having won the Senate seat over incumbent Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler in a runoff in early January of last year.

With the possibility of control of the Senate at stake, both parties are expected to invest huge sums buying campaign ads.

At least voters already weary of the constant barrage of ads that marked the general election campaign won’t have to endure them as long as during the last runoff. While the Warnock-Loeffler runoff stretched out over two months at the end of 2020 and beginning of 2021, a change in state law since then will limit the upcoming runoff campaign to four weeks.

This story is available through a news partnership with Capitol Beat News Service, a project of the Georgia Press Educational Foundation.

Dave Williams | Capitol Beat

Dave Williams is the Bureau Chief of Capitol Beat News Service.