While Donald Trump continues lawlessly to overturn Joe Biden’s valid victory in Georgia, the Democrats must run three campaigns this week for the two seats of the U.S. Senate in Georgia. Rev. Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff are of course in the runoff election after November against GOP Senators Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue. But the third campaign was carried out by hundreds, maybe thousands, of Democratic leaders and activists, and it could be the most important of all: preventing the GOP from suppressing, disqualifying, and preventing Democratic voters from voting in the January 5 runoff.
These activists play Whac-a-Mole with hundreds of Republican antagonists of the Texas-based voter suppression group True the Vote, which sought to invalidate more than 364,000 registered voters. to local electoral officials in at least 80 of the state’s 159 counties Trump and his legal gremlins, who are bringing unsubstantiated lawsuits and making false claims of widespread electoral fraud allegedly turned over to President-elect Biden, seek to restrict choices or investigate voters to the point of harassment.
Thanks to the work of Stacey Abrams’ Fair Fight constituencies and tireless lawyers, most judges and district officials have overcome these challenges almost as quickly as Republicans can table them. In a great irony, GOP Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, devastated by Trump for confirming Biden’s victory, ordered an unprecedented audit by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation into the processing of postal ballot papers in the formerly Republican, now Democratic Cobb County. When examining whether the signatures for postal ballot papers matched the voter registration records, the GBI found no evidence of election fraud in more than 15,000 ballot papers. There were 10 with problematic signatures, but the agents found that all voters were registered, eligible, and made honest mistakes.
“That’s the kind of thing that makes me angry about fake news about fraud, “says Atlanta Rep. Bee Nguyen,” because what is lost is how many voters are disenfranchised by this process. “
Even so, Georgia broke records for early voting and turnout in this historic runoff election. Every indicator points to a record democratic turnout for a runoff election: at least 114,000 new voters, mostly in blue counties, have emerged, although this was not the case in November. Most are colored people, 40 percent are black. The black vote overall precedes the vote that was held at the same time during the early parliamentary elections in November. Overall, Democratic counties and congressional districts outperform Republicans, often many times over.
In the end, Georgia got more than three million votes ahead of election day (postal votes are still being received, meaning the total early votes will be higher). The highest turnout was 2.1 million voters for a runoff election in the Senate won by the GOP in 2008.
“It’s a fantastic number,” said Stacey Abrams, the 2018 gubernatorial candidate who founded Fair Fight after a narrow loss to voter-suppressing Foreign Secretary Brian Kemp, now governor.
The Joker card, of course, is Election Day Republicans have flooded Democrats in elections for the past few years, including the last one (they made up 60 percent of the electorate on Nov. 3, but gave Biden’s early vote and the pillow of absence win him a degree while Ossoff left Perdue behind but still forced a runoff because neither got 50 percent of the vote). Turnout is even more unpredictable given the madness of Trump calling for the resignation of Kemp and other state officials in order to confirm Biden’s November victory.
Trump will gather on Monday evening in Whitfield County, northwest Georgia, a GOP stronghold that lagged behind in early votes but had the highest coronavirus rate in the state in the past two weeks. If that’s not perverted enough, he’ll surely mess up the messages of the candidates he’s supposed to be supporting, Loeffler and Perdue. He supported the efforts to postpone the runoff election and arranged the election “illegal and invalid. “He pitted the two senators against their former Republican allies in the state, dividing the party at a time when the Democrats were never so united. The Washington Post published a recorded call on Sunday in which Trump asked Raffensperger to “find” 11,870 votes and threatened if he did not,A lot of people don’t go to the vote ”on Tuesday.
Vice-President-elect Kamala Harris came to Savannah Sunday to drive the turnout in the heavily black Chatham County. Former Savannah Mayor Otis Johnson believes he did just that. “The rally was energetic and very well attended and there is a lot of positive momentum going on Tuesday,” he told me, although he predicts, “it will probably be Thursday or Friday before we know the result.” It’s also possible Democrats could get more help from a Trump in Whitfield County on Monday night. Or he will arm his lawless, racist, conspiracy base to flood the Democrats on Tuesday. This race is officially too wild to call it up.
T.After Biden narrowly won and Warnock and Ossoff made it to their runoff election in November, I heard several keys to a Democratic victory in January. One of these was obviously to make sure the turnout wasn’t crater-like like Democrats in runoff elections. Another was to maintain or even increase the proportion of black voters. The turnout for Asia Pacific Islanders and Latinos was up a staggering 91 percent for AAPI voters and 47 percent for Latinos. Activists told me it was crucial to keep investing in these communities, with paid organizers, plus advertising, mail, and social media in the language to get them to vote in an unfamiliar runoff.
Perhaps hardest of all, the Democrats had to keep encouraging youth participation. The proportion of voters aged 18-29 rose from 14 percent in 2016 to 16 percent in 2020, but college students could go home for vacations where they weren’t registered. Eventually, the Democrats had to “return to the doors” with an aggressive advertising operation that Covid had largely suspended in the summer and fall, while repelling the harassment, repression and voter interference that would surely follow Biden’s historic victory.
By most reports, they did pretty much anything.
It is noteworthy to believe that anti-Trump electoral resistance began in early 2017 with newcomer Jon Ossoff’s race to fill a vacant seat in Georgia’s sixth congressional district and ends with the Senate runoffs for Ossoff and Warnock. The contest for this suburban Atlanta seat four years ago was, in many ways, the blueprint for organizing and publishing the “new Georgia” that Abrams and others identified years ago. Ossoff’s run inspired a rebellion by suburban white women, mostly Democrats but some ex-Republicans appalled by Trump, along with the region’s traditional Democratic stalwarts, black voters (Ossoff’s early endorsement by late MP John Lewis gave him from the start civil rights). That June, Ossoff narrowly lost to anti-election extremist Karen Handel.
The 2017 Ossoff campaign has been criticized for being over-funded by big donors and under-inspired by progressive ideals, many of which were unfair. It created a local organizational infrastructure and a small donor base that continues to this day and helped elect Lucy McBath to the Sixth District seat twice. One fair criticism I later heard was the campaign’s inability to connect with the district’s growing Latin American and Asia-Pacific islanders. Stacey Abrams’ tenure as governor in 2018 changed that, investing in Latino and AAPI organizers, as well as advertising and outreach in at least seven languages.
Biden reaped what Abrams sowed and the turnout from AAPI and Latino rose. Meanwhile, the two Senate campaigns as well as the state-run Democratic Party have their own AAPI and Latino organizers and communications staff. A measure of the change since 2017: The Ossoff campaign hired the long-time local AAPI organizer Cam Ashling as its outreach director.
The turnout of the AAPI and Latino, however, lagged slightly behind that of November. Atlanta School Board member Jason Esteves isn’t worried. “There is evidence that Latinos like to vote on election day,” he says. Esteves believes both campaigns have delivered on their promise to hire community organizers – not just volunteer recruits – and linguistic staff. Republicans have now invested a lot in promoting Georgia Latinos, but not so much in a base game. Bee Nguyen, elected in 2017 to occupy Abrams’ seat at Atlanta House, is a little more concerned about the AAPI’s slightly lagging turnout. “It’s the holidays combined with the pandemic, “she says. “And some voter fatigue.”
On the other hand, the early youth election is almost keeping pace with November – it is around 15 percent, says Abrams. Some Democrats focused on the youngest of those voters, Nse Ufot of the Abrams-founded New Georgia Project tells me: Those who turned 18 between Election Day and January 5th.
“We held meetings – do you know how at school they could get the seniors together for half a morning to have awkward conversations about sex? This year we talked to them – in virtual meetings – about voting. We had virtual birthday parties with everyone who turned 18 in a school with the hottest rappers we could get to say yes to us. It was fantastic. “After November 3rd, 23,000 Georgians turned 18. The New Georgia Project registered 7,000 of them. Nobody is sure how many will vote yet, but overall the numbers are encouraging. Meanwhile, the Ossoff campaign has 2,000 part-time “Community mobilizers” hired, most of them young black voters, to get in touch with friends and family before election day.
“The fact that in a runoff election in early January, younger voters will come very close to this turnout [from November] is a little crazy ” TargetSmart’s Tom Bonier told the Washington Post. “I’m running out of superlatives…. These are voters who traditionally would not vote in such an election.”
And the Democrats are back in large numbers – from the Warnock and Ossoff campaigns to the state’s Democratic Party to countless progressive groups. According to Ufot, the NGP only knocked 400,000 doors between Labor Day and November 3 because of Covid. Since then, the group has knocked 1.6 million. Latino organizing group Mijente says their 200 paid recruiters will knock 300,000 doors by election day.
W.While the Democrats have continued to do a good job tracing their voters, party leaders agree that they received some vital bailout from Trump. One is the sore loser’s attack on solid conservative GOP leaders like Kemp and Raffensperger. This weekend the Washington Post received a call recording by Trump, who berated Raffensperger for “finding 11,780 votes” and undoing Biden’s victory, citing a series of “defrauding” voters for which there is no evidence. “Well, Mr President, the challenge you have is that the data you have is wrong,” replied Raffensperger.
“You have a big choice ahead of you,” Trump replied, “and because of what you did to the president, many people will not vote and many Republicans will vote negatively because.” You hate what you did to the president. “He threatened to relitigate his claims at his rally on Monday evening, which could be fatal for Loeffler and Perdue.
Republican fighting in Georgia has made many heads of state concerned about turnout. “The president’s continued broadside against the Senate Republicans while maintaining the majority in balance is one of the unhelpful things he did during his presidency,” a GOP strategist told Politico.
The other is Trump’s call for $ 2,000, not $ 600 of direct Covid aid. After months of speaking out against any direct Covid aid, both Perdue and Loeffler freaked out and came out for Trump’s $ 2,000 proposal, which was also supported by most of the Democrats. But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell blocked it.
“We should have brought some relief months ago. This is what happens when politics is about politicians. ” Warnock said at a rally Thursday. “This is a lot of maneuver between politicians. And they live a kind of privilege that enables them to do so. “
The message is resonance, say activists. “We’re now shifting all of our scripts – for phone calls, for texts, for the doors, for our ads – to this issue of relief, ”says Ufot. “Loeffler and Perdue’s flip-flop doesn’t fool anyone. They’ve been blocking aid all year. Mitch [McConnell] will be the Senate majority leader if they win, which means we won’t get any help. We had to turn: this is the animating theme of this moment. “
Ossoff and Warnock are also running more progressive campaigns than Ossoff did in 2017, supporting a minimum wage of $ 15 an hour, criminal justice reform, investing in climate change infrastructure and legalizing marijuana. Warnock, with Ossoff’s help, calmly pushes back Loeffler’s unfounded, racist claims about his pastoral advocacy over the years. Ossoff has called Perdue a “crook” and went to the mats to fight the GOP’s racist campaign against Warnock. He beat up a Fox News reporter for asking if he thought he was running with Warnock, which is affecting his chances, and insisting that Loeffler “fought with a Klansman.” (A CNN fact check pushed Ossoff’s viral claim back. Loeffler only took pictures with a Klansman and a neo-Nazi convicted of assaulting a black man in the 1990s. Oops.)
The two men have used themselves as running mates, and Ufot sees them lifting each other up. “Your audience will over-bleed each other,” said Ufot The New Yorker. “Atlanta suburban white mothers driving for Jon Ossoff are introduced to Warnock, this black pastor of the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church. And Warnock gives Ossoff credibility in the black pockets of the state that he couldn’t buy. “Total query of Thirty-five suggests Warnock now lead 2 percent; Ossoff at 1.4.
I spent a lot of time in Georgia in 2017 and 2018 reporting on the Ossoff, McBath, and Abrams campaigns. It saddens me not to be there for this historic runoff, but even if Trump is ready to sicken supporters in Whitfield County, I listen to public health experts and write from home. I can’t see what’s happening on the ground, but from a distance I’m inspired not only by the turnout campaigns, but also by the myriad and innovative efforts to fight back voter repression.
Just to give one illustrative example, after Kemp tried to disqualify 53,000 Georgian voters in 2018 for having their signatures inconsistent with their voter registration records, lawmakers passed a law requiring those voters to be informed of the problem and given the opportunity to vote their voters to “heal” vote. However, the healing process is cumbersome and not everyone – perhaps not most voters – can manage it. One of the most inspiring additions this year is a campaign to help voters – most of them elderly, many colored – heal their ballots.
Atlanta State Representative Bee Nguyen was first required to prove that voters accused of casting fraudulent postal votes in November’s general election had voted legally. (You can see their evidence HereNow she and a team of neighbors are working to “heal” the votes of runoff voters who made a mistake on their postal ballot papers – not signing them, or signing them in the wrong place, or with a signature that official sources say not available is not a match.
“It’s mostly seniors,” she told me, and most of them don’t have laptops or cell phones or the technical know-how to complete the process on their own. She recently visited a 70-year-old African American neighbor, Lorenzo, who hadn’t signed his ballot. “I think this man had to trust a stranger to come into his house, take pictures of his photo ID, and get him to sign a piece of paper, ”she says. “It’s such a shame. Imagine if you were an elderly black voter in the south and had to go through things like this – all restrictive and punitive towards voters. “
But these neighborhood ballot healing efforts are a vivid example of the kind of relational organization progressive Georgia has done well over the past four years – “friend to friend, neighbor to neighbor,” says Nse Ufot.
Another sign of GOP alarm – and an innovative, albeit cruel, attempt to suppress voters: Raffensperger voted for the runoff election criminalized “line warming,” the increasingly common practice of assisting voters in long lines by bringing them food, drinks or warm clothing, and threatening to charge anyone who does so with a crime. Ufot is not intimidated. “I have tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of pizza and scarves and hot chocolate and water,” she tells me. “We’re going to bring these things to the Georgians – we’re preparing for a showdown.”
This remains an uphill struggle for the Democrats. You did everything right, but Georgia is still not a blue state. It’s hardly purple The presumed Democratic primary advantage could be inundated by a tsunami of angry Trump supporters on election day if the defeated president calibrates his complaint message exactly on Monday evening.
Still, it is impossible to overestimate the strides Democrats and progressives have made over the past four years. “The best thing I’ve seen in these runoff elections and in the field are organizations that work so well together, ”says Jason Esteves. Fair Fight Action’s Lauren Groh-Wargo adds: “If I am a Republican in Georgia I would be very worried now. I would not want to be her.”