After gaining some Democratic momentum in Georgia with President-elect Joe Biden’s victory, Democratic strategists believe Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff will win their runoff races against Republican Sens. Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue.
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams came within 2% of Republican Governor Brian Kemp in 2018, according to CNN. Many Democrats are crediting Abrams for laying the groundwork for President-elect Joe Biden’s success in Georgia in the 2020 presidential election. (RELATED: Stacey Abrams May Finally Have Won The Presidency)
????Joe Biden will need a Democratic Senate, and we all need voting rights.
— Marc E. Elias (@marceelias) December 4, 2020
Democrat and DeKalb County CEO Michael Thurmond told Politico, “Typically, in runoffs, you’re just trying to turn out your voters again … because it’ll be a smaller universe of voters going back to vote without a presidential race going on.” Warnock and Ossoff, Thurman said, “will have to build on the coalition Biden built.”
Georgia, thank you. Together, we have changed the course of our state for the better. But our work is not done.
— Stacey Abrams (@staceyabrams) November 7, 2020
Democracy in Color founder, Steve Phillips, said Abrams laid the “foundation” that “has brought this state into toss-up status for presidential races and for two Senate runoffs,” according to Politico. “The blueprint she wrote in 2019 should be a roadmap for the national donor community about how to move resources over the next two months,” Phillips added.
Jaamal Bowman, a progressive Democrat who just won a congressional seat in New York, has recently been in contact with Abrams and told The New York Times that progressives are deeply invested in the outcomes of the Georgia elections.
Bowman conceded to The New York Times that “Georgia is not New York. It’s not California. It has its own culture.” However, Bowman added that “it’s a culture rooted in justice for all, and we just want to make sure we support that initiative as much as we can, as representatives from other parts of the country.”
“We are moving heaven and earth and pointing all of our resources as much as we can to help us win those two seats in Georgia,” Bowman said.
Bowman also told The New York Times that “the Squad,” a group of progressives in the house that include Democratic Reps. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez of New York and Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, are involved in strategizing for the Georgia runoffs.
Democratic California Rep. Ro Khanna, one of the heads of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, says the runoffs are “about the here and now.”
“We understand the stakes,” Khanna said of the Georgia runoffs, “and every progressive group that I know of has made that a priority with the same passion and determination as winning back the presidency.”
Khanna also said the outcomes of the runoffs should not “determine the boldness” of their “agenda,” according to The New York Times. “The mistake would be to pull back,” he added.
“Is Georgia a Tier 1 state? Is Georgia a progressive state? Are we building a new Georgia? Yes, yes and yes,” a political strategist for the progressive Working Families Party, Britney Whaley, told The New York Times.
Much of the focus of the progressive organizations trying to unseat Loeffler and Perdue focus now seems to be continuing Abrams’ efforts to turn out black and other minority voters.
The New Georgia Project, a group founded by Abrams, is headed by Nse Ufot, according to The New York Times. Ufot told The New York Times Democrats have “an obsession with moving white moderate men back into the Democratic Party.” She believes Democrats who believe this are mistaken, The New York Times reported.
“It just feels like people do not get, and do not understand, what it takes to win and what it takes to win in the South,” she told The New York Times.
“We can contribute to this progressive majority — it’s just that it can’t be race-blind. It can’t be race neutral,” she added.
For Quentin James, founder of Collective PAC, the key to victory for Democrats in Georgia lies with turning out black voters, according to Politico. James says that typically Democrats devote “significant resources are spent solely on peeling off white voters, and rarely invested in both strategies equally,” Politico reported.
“Abrams has shown is you can both talk to rural white voters and engage black men, and you can do it equally,” James said.
Co-founder of Black Voices Matter told CNN in an interview that Ossoff needs “to do a better job with black voter outreach.” Albright said Democrats have momentum in the black community because 2020 showed that Georgia can vote blue, but Ossoff needs to capitalize.
However, some Democrats have been quick to acknowledge that while Biden may have come away with a victory in the presidential election, Democrats underperformed in key house and senate races. South Carolina Democratic Rep. Jim Clyburn credited these failings to progressive sloganeering like “defund the police” on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “We need to work on what makes headway, rather than what makes headlines,” Clyburn said.
Current data suggests that President Donald Trump overperformed with minority voters, like he did in 2016, according to Politico. However, Terrance Woodbury, a Democratic pollster, thinks this was isolated to the presidential election. “I don’t see that trend continuing down-ballot, nor do I think that will continue without Donald Trump on the ballot,” Woodbury told Politico.
Abrams herself said the Democratic candidates will have an extraordinary amount of resources, and need to devote those resources to make sure their closing message lands, in an appearance on CNN Sunday. “This is going to be the determining factor of whether we have access to health care and access to justice in the United States,” Abrams said.
As Biden was leaving, a reporter asked whether he’d be going to Georgia.
“Yes,” he said, as he walked off the stage.
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) December 4, 2020
Georgia Democratic strategist Howard Franklin told CNN in an interview that Democrats need to increase their on-the-ground presence before the Jan. 5 runoffs. Franklin says, “a large contingent” of Democrats aren’t going to be engaged with virtual campaigning, or respond to texts from “strangers and volunteers.” “They [the voters] have to be met exactly where they are,” Franklin added.