Democrats’ historic Georgia Senate victory was thanks to local grassroots

Democratic candidate between Senate John Osoff (L), Rafael Warnock (C) and US President-Elect Joe Biden (R) during a rally outside Center Par Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia on January 4, 2021.

Jim Watson | AFP | Getty Images

President-Elect Joe Biden’s victory in Georgia marked the first time that a Democrat had won the state’s presidential race since 1992.

Only two months later, Georgia voters made history again in two competitive runoff elections, sending Democrats to the Senate for the first time in two decades. The Rev. Rafael Warnock, senior pastor of the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church, will be the first black senator in Georgia. Documentary filmmaker John Osoff will be the first Jewish senator from the state and the youngest senator in the new Congress.

Strong turnout from black voters and other voters of color led to the historic victory of Warnock and Osoff in Georgia – a culmination of years of ground-breaking organizing and voter mobilization efforts in the making.

More than 4.4 million ballots have already been counted for such an election in Georgia. When all votes are tallied, according to NBC estimates, the general election may account for around 92% of the vote.

Bernard Fraga, a political scientist at Emory University in Atlanta, said, “There’s no story of Republican turnout being weak because it’s Democratic turnout, especially black turnout, much stronger than anyone predicted.” .

Fraga said that Black voters gave a majority to Warnock and Ospho’s winning voter base. According to the NBC exit poll, about 30% of registered voters in Georgia are black and 92% of black voters support Democratic Senate candidates.

Latino and Asian American voters also supported Ospho and Warnock at 63–64% and 60–61%, respectively. A historic surge in Latino and Asian American voting pushed Biden to a victory margin during the general election and competed in Georgia’s US Senate race when no candidate received more than 50% of the vote in November.

High democratic voting can be attributed to stricter vote-out-to-vote efforts by the Warnock and Osoff campaigns, with a particular focus on Black, Latino and Asian American communities. According to spokesman Maggie Chambers, the Democratic Party’s coordinated campaign attempted more than 25 million voter contact efforts to reach more than one million Georgia voters through door-to-door canvassing, phone calls, and text messages.

But even more grassroots organizing came from dozens of non-profit organizations and advocacy groups working in overdrive, organizations specifically focused on racial and ethnic communities. His voter-mobilization efforts prompted historic and decisive turnout during the runoff, but his work began – and for some, more than a decade – east.

Grassroots organized

Local black organizers and organizers of color have been working for years to register and engage, while they have traditionally been undergarmented in the political process, even as they struggled to secure investment from funders and campaigns Were.

The most prominent of this cohort is Stacey Ebers, a former state legislator and gubernatorial candidate who founded the voter registration group New Georgia Project and later the voter rights organization Fair Fight.

“[L]Ait celebrates extraordinary organizers, volunteers, canvassers and tireless groups who haven’t stopped going since November, “Abrams said on Twitter on January 5.” Around our state, we roar. “

Several organizers credited him with high-level funding for putting the vision for Georgia, a battleground in national political headlines, and for increasing voter mobilization efforts.

“He is associated with a level of philanthropy that nonprofit leaders like him at the grassroots cannot reach. So much credit for him” Hales Kim Ho, a long-time collaborator with Abrams and former executive director of Asian Americans Advocate Justice -Atlanta, a non-partisan. The advocacy group Ho was founded in 2010.

Ho said it was Abrams’ gubernatorial campaign in 2018 that first centered the electoral power of the Black, Latino and Asian American communities in Georgia and “opened up political fronts of money.”

Bianca Keaton is the Democratic Party chair in Gwinnett County, a former conservative stronghold now in an increasingly diverse majority-minority constituency where Warnock and Ossoff won by more than 20 points. She said that when she turned out to fundraise more and more for the county party two years ago, members of her committee laughed at her.

“People didn’t believe what we were doing,” Keaton said. “But we kept plugging in until we found what we needed. And with all of us collectively walking in faith, we went up a mountain.”

These infrastructure groups have an innovative approach to building political power, emphasizing relational and cultural organizing, investing in digital infrastructure and technology.

“We start early. We work to build relationships in the communities we eventually want to get out of,” said Nase Uphot, chief executive of the New Georgia Project. “The work of organizing the community, the work of organizing the issue, the work of overcoming the years of oppression is not something that is going to happen just after Labor Day.”

The New Georgia Project, which focuses on registering people of color and young people to vote, launched in 2014. From October 2016 to October 2020, the number of Black registered voters in Georgia increased by nearly 130,000, accounting for more than 25% of newly registered voters, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of state voter registration data. The number of Latino and Asian American registered voters increased by more than 50%, which led to a rapidly increasing share of Georgia voters.

Former US Rep and Voting Rights Activist Stacey Abrams speaks with former US President Barack Obama at the Get Out the Vote rally as he campaigned for Democratic presidential nominee former Vice President Joe Biden in Atlanta, Georgia on November 2, 2020 We do.

Elijah Novelge | AFP | Getty Images

Uphot said the New Georgia project knocked over 2 million doors between November and January, along with more than 6.7 million phone calls and more than 4 million text messages.

Cliff Albright, co-founder of Black Voters Matter, said his group incorporates “music and culture and dance and pleasure” into its campaigns. The Black Voters Matter Fund toured across the state, calling the group the “blackest bus in America” ​​to rally voters in areas often overlooked by traditional political campaigns.

The Black Voters Matter Fund has local partners in 50 counties throughout Georgia, collaborating with community groups such as churches, NAACP chapters, neighborhood associations, and historically Black Greek letter organizations.

“Our message goes beyond elections,” Albright said. “We are doing this to create long term electricity.”

Maria Teresa Kumar, CEO of the voter registration group Votto Latino, said that after the 2016 election, her organization invested in data scientists and technology to target potential voters in the social media and digital space, registering people to vote. Borrowed commercial marketing strategy to. Votto Latino registered about 15% of all newly registered voters in Georgia since November, according to Kumar.

“There are a lot of organizations working on the ground that are already providing energy to the people. This is the model,” Kumar said.

Advocacy groups for communities of color have also worked for years to combat voter suppression and expand language access. Groups such as Justice-Atlanta, Asian American Advocacy Fund, Latino Community Fund Georgia and Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials have focused efforts including multilingual outreach and language voter protection hotlines.

Organizers shared a shared message: For Democrats and other political campaigns, Georgia is hoping to replicate the Playbook elsewhere in South and America, investing in local organizing and leadership.

“For those who have the resources to give, find people on the ground who are actually working,” Ho said. “Give money there. This is the best way. It really is.”


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