Democrat Raphael Warnock holds narrow poll lead in crucial Georgia Senate runoff – as it happened

Last modified: 09: 04 PM GMT+0

Closing summary

Democratic senator Raphael Warnock and his Republican challenger Herschel Walker are in the home stretch of campaigning ahead of Tuesday’s run-off election for Georgia’s Senate seat. Polls indicate Warnock has the edge, while the weather may undercut Walker’s hopes that Republican voters will turn out massively for him tomorrow. Meanwhile, in New York, jurors are deliberating in the tax fraud trial of Donald Trump’s business.

Here’s what else happened today:

  • Former vice-president Mike Pence and Alaska senator Lisa Murkowski are among the few Republicans to condemn Trump’s call for the “termination” of the constitution.

  • Kamala Harris will swear in Los Angeles’s new mayor Karen Bass next week. Bass will be the first Black woman to lead the city.

  • Democrats have vastly outspent Republicans in the contest for Georgia’s Senate seat.

  • The supreme court’s conservative majority appeared ready to side with a Christian graphic designer who refused to make a website for a same-sex couple in a case over Colorado’s anti-discrimination law. The arguments also featured some eyebrow-raising comments from conservative justice Samuel Alito.

  • Manhattan’s district attorney has added a former justice department official with extensive Trump experience as he continues an inquiry into an alleged hush-money payment by the former president.

Anyone who’s flown through an American airport recently has probably seen signs encouraging them to make sure their drivers license or identification card is compliant with the REAL ID Act.

Passed in 2005 on the recommendation of the 9/11 commission, the law’s implementation has repeatedly been delayed, and the homeland security department today announced its effective date has been pushed back again, from 3 May, 2023 to 7 May, 2025 :

NEWS: DHS announces extension of REAL ID full enforcement deadline. Learn more at:

— TSA (@TSA) December 5, 2022

The department cited the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic as the latest hold up. States typically require applicants to present more stringent proofs of identity such as passports in order to obtain a REAL ID-compliant drivers license or identification card.

Once the 2025 deadline passes, such documentation will be necessary to get through Transportation Security Administration checkpoints at airports, as well as to access other federal agencies, the homeland security department says.

It appears the supreme court’s conservative majority is siding with a Christian graphic artist in a dispute over Colorado’s anti-discrimination law, the Associated Press reports.

The justices are weighing whether the artist broke Colorado’s law by refusing to design a wedding website for a same-sex couple. While the court’s arguments are notoriously opaque, the balance of power is currently 6-3 in favor of the conservatives, and the AP says comments by Republican-appointed justices indicate they’re in favor of the artist.

Here’s more from their story:

Justice Neil Gorsuch, one of three high court appointees of former President Donald Trump, described Lorie Smith, the website designer in the case, as “an individual who says she will sell and does sell to everyone, all manner of websites, (but) that she won’t sell a website that requires her to express a view about marriage that she finds offensive.”

Where to draw the line for what a business might do without violating state anti-discrimination laws was a big question in Monday’s arguments at the high court.

Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson asked whether a photography store in a shopping mall could refuse to take pictures of Black people on Santa’s lap.

“Their policy is that only white children can be photographed with Santa in this way, because that’s how they view the scenes with Santa that they’re trying to depict,” Jackson said.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor repeatedly pressed Kristen Waggoner, the lawyer for Smith, over other categories. “How about people who don’t believe in interracial marriage? Or about people who don’t believe that disabled people should get married? Where’s the line?” Sotomayor asked.

But Justice Samuel Alito, who seemed to favor Smith, asked whether it’s “fair to equate opposition to same-sex marriage to opposition to interracial marriage?”

Things got a little awkward today during the supreme court’s arguments in a case pitting a Christian graphic artist against Colorado’s anti-discrimination law.

The justices are considering whether the graphic designer has the right to turn down designing a website for a same-sex couple, or whether the state’s law compels her to do so. As justices heard both sides in the case, they pondered how the law would handle hypothetical situations, and conservative justice Samuel Alito generated a few chuckles in the courtroom – and many raised eyebrows outside of it – with a quip about Black children and the Ku Klux Klan:

Justice Alito jokes with Justice Kagan that, "You do see a lot of Black children in Ku Klux Klan outfits all the time," during oral arguments in a free speech case.

— The Recount (@therecount) December 5, 2022

Alito, who was the author of this summer’s decision overturning Roe v Wade, also seemed to imply liberal justice Elana Kagan would know something about – a dating site specializing in infidelity:

Justice Alito: "[Jdate is] a dating service, I gather, for Jewish people."

Justice Kagan: "It is."

Alito: "Maybe Justice Kagan will also be familiar with the next website I'm gonna mention ..."

— The Recount (@therecount) December 5, 2022

Manhattan district attorney Alvin Bragg is conducting one of the many investigations into Donald Trump’s conduct, and the New York Times reports he’s brought on to his team an attorney with a history of tangling with the former president.

Matthew Colangelo will join Bragg’s team as a senior counsel, after serving as the number-three official in the justice department and, before that, a top lawyer for New York’s attorney general. The Manhattan prosecutor has long been investigating Trump’s business practices, and while at one point it looked like the inquiry was foundering, the Times reports it has recently shifted its focus towards a payments to porn star Stormy Daniels, who said she had an affair with Trump.

As the Times reports, Colangelo challenged the Trump administration repeatedly during his time in the New York attorney general’s office:

Mr. Bragg and Mr. Colangelo overlapped while working at the New York attorney general’s office, where Mr. Bragg rose to become chief deputy attorney general and Mr. Colangelo was chief counsel for federal initiatives. In that role, Mr. Colangelo led dozens of lawsuits against the Trump administration, including a successful challenge to the inclusion of a question about citizenship to the census in 2020. He also oversaw an investigation into Mr. Trump’s charity, the Trump Foundation, that caused the organization to dissolve, and led that office’s civil inquiry into Mr. Trump’s financial practices.

That inquiry led to a September lawsuit from the attorney general, Letitia James, that accused the president of overvaluing his assets by billions of dollars.

By then, Mr. Colangelo was working at the Department of Justice, having been appointed as acting associate attorney general when President Biden took office. In that job, the third highest-ranking at the department, Mr. Colangelo helped oversee the Civil, Civil Rights, Antitrust and Tax divisions, among others.

Donald Trump has reemerged on his Truth social network to refute that he ever called for the “termination” of the constitution – even though he definitely did.

“The Fake News is actually trying to convince the American People that I said I wanted to ‘terminate’ the Constitution. This is simply more DISINFORMATION & LIES, just like RUSSIA, RUSSIA, RUSSIA, and all of their other HOAXES & SCAMS”, the ex-president wrote.

But scroll a little further down his profile, and the “termination” comment sure doesn’t seem like disinformation or lies. Here’s what he wrote on Saturday, in the post that kicked off the latest firestorm: “So, with the revelation of MASSIVE & WIDESPREAD FRAUD & DECEPTION in working closely with Big Tech Companies, the DNC, & the Democrat Party, do you throw the Presidential Election Results of 2020 OUT and declare the RIGHTFUL WINNER, or do you have a NEW ELECTION? A Massive Fraud of this type and magnitude allows for the termination of all rules, regulations, and articles, even those found in the Constitution.”

In today’s posts, he doubles down on his insistence that the 2020 election was stolen, even though there’s been no proof of that, despite repeated attempts by Trump’s lawyers to convince judges nationwide otherwise.

“What I said was that when there is ‘MASSIVE & WIDESPREAD FRAUD & DECEPTION,’ as has been irrefutably proven in the 2020 Presidential Election, steps must be immediately taken to RIGHT THE WRONG", Trump wrote.


The day so far

Democratic senator Raphael Warnock and his Republican challenger Herschel Walker are in the home stretch of campaigning ahead of Tuesday’s run-off election for Georgia’s Senate seat. Polls indicate Warnock has the edge, while the weather may undercut Walker’s hopes that Republican voters will turn out massively for him tomorrow. Meanwhile, in New York, jurors are deliberating in the tax fraud trial of Donald Trump’s business.

Here’s what else has happened so far today:


Meanwhile, Democrats have settled on a new leader in the House of Representatives: Hakeem Jeffries, who is set to steer the party through two years in the minority beginning in 2023. The Guardian’s Edwin Rios has more about Jeffries, who could one day become the next House speaker:

Democratic congressman Hakeem Jeffries first emerged in the mid-2000s as a former corporate lawyer homegrown from central Brooklyn. With his focus on criminal justice reform and housing affordability, he was seen as a progressive of the moment who took on the existing Democratic machine in New York.

Now, as the newly-elected successor to House speaker Nancy Pelosi, Jeffries has graduated from state politics to the national stage with the opportunity to make an impression on American politics for years to come.

Last week Jeffries, 52, became the first Black leader of either party in Congress. Under the incoming Congress, Jeffries will be House minority leader, making him the most powerful Democrat in the House. His ascension, paired with the departures of longtime and elderly Democratic leaders like Pelosi, Steny Hoyer and Jim Clyburn, signals a shift for Democrats toward a younger, more diverse generation of leaders that will undoubtedly face tension with a new Republican House majority on the horizon.

Georgia’s Democratic senator Raphael Warnock continues to lead his challenger Herschel Walker ahead of tomorrow’s run-off election, a new poll has found.

The University of Massachusetts Lowell’s Center for Public Opinion reports Warnock has 51% support among likely voters in the state against Walker’s 46%. The data was collected from 1,300 people from 18 through 28 November.

Another conclusion of the poll: 54% disapprove of Joe Biden’s performance as president but would vote for him over Donald Trump in the 2024 presidential election.

Fresh off her re-election victory over a Trump-backed challenger, Alaska’s Republican senator Lisa Murkowski also condemned the former president’s call for the “termination” of the constitution:

Suggesting the termination of the Constitution is not only a betrayal of our Oath of Office, it’s an affront to our Republic.

— Sen. Lisa Murkowski (@lisamurkowski) December 5, 2022

Donald Trump’s comments about the “termination” of the constitution gave former vice-president Mike Pence another opportunity to distinguish himself from his former boss.

Pence fell out with Trump in the aftermath of the 2020 election, when he refused to participate in the then-president’s attempts to disrupt the outcome of the race. The two men may soon become open competitors if Pence decides to run for the White House in 2024, which he has said he is considering.

Here’s what Pence told a radio host today about Trump’s comments, as reported by the Washington Post:

“I think everyone that serves in public office, that aspires to serve, or serve again, should make it clear we will support and defend the Constitution of the United States," Pence said this AM on radio, when asked about Trump's "terminate" all rules Truth, even the Constitution.

— Josh Dawsey (@jdawsey1) December 5, 2022

Over the weekend, Donald Trump called for the “termination” of the constitution so he could return to power. As has been the case many times in the past, top Republicans are sticking with him, Martin Pengelly reports:

A leader of moderate Republicans in the US House repeatedly refused to condemn Donald Trump on Sunday, even after the former president, running for re-election in 2024, said the US constitution should be “terminated” to allow him to return to power.

“Whoever the Republicans end up picking, I’ll fall in behind” them, Dave Joyce of Ohio told ABC’s This Week, adding that he thought Americans did not want to look back to the 2020 election, the subject of Trump’s lies about electoral fraud and demand for extra-constitutional action.

Joyce’s host, George Stephanopoulos, said: “I don’t see how you can move forward if your candidate is for suspending the constitution but thank you for your time.”

Trump maintains the lie that the 2020 election, which Joe Biden won by more than 7m votes and a clear margin in the electoral college, was subject to widespread voter fraud. In messages on his Truth Social account on Saturday, Trump said the constitution should therefore be “terminated”.

The former president was condemned by Biden, Democrats and political commentators. On CBS’s Face the Nation on Sunday another Ohio Republican, Mike Turner, said he “absolutely” did so too.

Vice-president Kamala Harris will head to Los Angeles later this weekend to swear in the city’s new mayor Karen Bass, the Los Angeles Times reports.

A sitting congresswoman, Bass made history by becoming the first Black woman elected to lead the city last month. Harris is the first Black and south Asian woman to serve as US vice-president, and a fellow Californian who served as the state’s attorney general.

The swearing-in will happen on Sunday.

Democratic candidates managed to sweep the main races in Arizona last month, but only after officials across the state overcame a host of attempts to disrupt the vote. The Guardian’s Rachel Leingang has a closer look at just how messy the midterms were in the southwest state:

The lead-up to Arizona’s midterms saw tactics designed to disrupt the American democratic process in a battleground state where election denialism ran rampant. Though voters broadly rejected election deniers, the grip of their ideas remains strong among large portions of the right in the state, which is now at the forefront of the fight over democracy in the US.

“Voters in swing states sent a message that they were not receptive to election denialism. They didn’t send that message everywhere,” said Daniel I Weiner, director of the Brennan Center’s elections and government program.

Weiner added: “There is going to continue to have to be built a greater consensus amongst Americans across the ideological spectrum that this is out of bounds. This election was reassuring. It certainly doesn’t mean the election denialism has gone away, though.”

Here’s more from the Guardian’s Lauren Gambino on what Democrats hope to accomplish if Raphael Warnock wins a six-year term representing Georgia in the Senate:

Last month Democrats secured control of the US Senate, keeping their fragile hold on power with 50 seats and vice president Kamala Harris as the tie-breaking vote. Yet winning the Georgia runoff election on Tuesday would deliver Democrats more than just a single Senate seat: it would finally give them an outright majority.

The contest between Democratic senator Raphael Warnock and his scandal-plagued and Trump-backed Republican challenger, Herschel Walker, will determine whether the Democrats retain their 50-50 majority in the Senate, the narrowest possible balance of power, or whether they will expand it.

In the weeks since the November midterm elections, when Warnock and Walker failed to clear the 50% threshold needed to avoid a runoff, Democrats and Republicans have spent tens of millions of dollars and dispatched their top surrogates to Georgia in an all-out effort to win the seat. Early voter turnout has been especially high and polls show a close contest.

Gaining one more seat in the Senate would have far-reaching implications for Democrats, both politically and procedurally. As Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer wrote in an email to supporters: “Having 50 seats is great, but having 51 is even better.”

Republican hopes of a victory by Herschel Walker in Georgia are fading, Politico reports.

Not only is Walker behind in the few polls conducted in the state since last month’s midterms, but he’s been dogged by gaffes and allegations that he paid for women to have abortions even though he supports banning the procedure nationwide.

“I think a lot of Republicans are hoping we’ll be pleasantly surprised, but there aren’t a lot of indications out there to base that on,” former chair of Georgia’s Cobb County GOP Jason Shepherd told Politico. “Just a lot of hope and faith in things unseen. It’s the Christmas season, after all.”

The Republican candidate didn’t present himself well in an interview with the publication. They report that, “In a brief interview with POLITICO on Saturday, Walker seemed to mistake which chamber of Congress he was running for and also appeared to think the outcome of his race would determine control of the Senate.”

Even the weather could work against Walker. The GOP is hoping that their voters will turnout massively on election day to cast ballots, but it’s supposed to rain across the state tomorrow.

With less than 24 hours until polls open in Georgia, here’s a reminder from CNN on how much Democrats want to see Raphael Warnock re-elected to the Senate.

The party has spent massively on his run-off election in the weeks since last month’s midterm election, and outspent the Republican campaign for Herschel Walker:

On the eve of the Georgia runoff, some eye-popping numbers: Democrats have more than doubled GOP ad spending since Nov. 9 -- $55.1 to $25.8 million. From campaigns and outside groups, it all ads up to about $80.9 million since Election Day, my colleague @DavidWright_7 reports.

— Jeff Zeleny (@jeffzeleny) December 5, 2022

Jury to begin deliberations in Trump Organization fraud trial

Jurors in Manhattan will today start deliberating over whether to convict the Trump Organization in its tax fraud trial, Politico reports.

Former president Donald Trump’s business is facing $1.6 m in fines if jurors determine that it avoided taxes through a scheme to pay its executives with under-the-table perks. Trump is not facing charges in the case, but a conviction could further tarnish his reputation as he once again seeks the White House in 2024.

Closing arguments wrapped up last week, and a verdict could come as soon as today. Defense attorneys have argued Trump knew nothing about the scheme, and said Allen Weisselberg, the chief financial officer who has already pleaded guilty to tax charges, is to blame for the fraud.

Two years ago, Georgia was the state that decided control of the Senate in Democrats’ favor. This year, its importance will be slightly diminished – but that doesn’t mean the results of Tuesday’s run-off election between Democratic senator Raphael Warnock and Republican Herschel Walker won’t be closely watched.

Democrats won enough seats in last month’s midterm elections to control Congress’s upper chamber for another two years, but only by a margin so slim they’ll need vice-president Kamala Harris to cast tie-breaking votes on legislation Republicans don’t support. But if Warnock wins, the Democrats will control the chamber outright, and the influence of senators like Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema, who repeatedly acted as spoilers for some of Joe Biden’s policy proposals over the past two years, will be lessened.

A victory by Walker will put Republicans one seat away from retaking control of the chamber, and perhaps mark the unofficial start of the campaign to do so in 2024. In that election, Democrats will be defending Senate seats in a number of states that typically vote Republican, such as Montana, Ohio and West Virginia. They would only need to lose one for the GOP to return to the majority.

Democrat Warnock holds narrow lead in final stretch of campaigning for Georgia Senate seat

Good morning, US politics blog readers. Democratic senator Raphael Warnock appears to have a narrow lead in the runoff election for Georgia’s Senate seat against GOP challenger Herschel Walker, polls indicate. If he wins, Democrats will be able to pad their majority in Congress’s upper chamber, and have an easier time defending their control when legislative elections are held in 2024. But if Walker wins, Democrats’ hopes that Georgia has become a purple state may end up being put on ice. We’re one day away from finding out which side has the momentum.

Here’s a rundown of what’s going on today:

  • The supreme court at 10am eastern time will hear arguments in a case over whether Colorado’s anti-discrimination law violates the free speech rights of a web designer because she only wants to create wedding pages for heterosexual couples.

  • Joe Biden, fresh off welcoming French president Emmanuel Macron to Washington, hosts the congressional ball at 6.30pm.

  • White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre briefs reporters at 2.30pm.


Chris Stein in Washington

The GuardianTramp

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