- Voter mobilization efforts spearheaded by Stacey Abrams in Georgia appear to have faltered, according to political experts interviewed by the Daily Caller News Foundation.
- Abrams’ New Georgia Project and other groups have not been visible in terms of knocking on doors, deploying signage and drawing out existing supporters.
- “Black turnout is down. Mobilization was ineffective,” said M.V. “Trey” Johnson III, director of the Survey Research Center at the University of Georgia, told the DCNF. “The runoff is a turnout battle and, excepting [sic] Trump, the GOP generally does well.”
Democrats’ voter turnout operation, including the New Georgia Project spearheaded by former Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, is failing to make critical outreach to voters ahead of December’s Georgia Senate runoff, political experts in Georgia told the Daily Caller News Foundation.
“Black turnout is down. Mobilization was ineffective,” said M.V. “Trey” Johnson III, director of the Survey Research Center at the University of Georgia, when asked about voter turnout in November’s general election by the DCNF. Johnson cited the lack of appropriate spending by Democrats as well as the strong campaign of Republican Gov. Brian Kemp of Georgia, who won reelection by 7.5% over Abrams, as the reason for Republicans’ superior performance. (RELATED: Georgia Democrats Rip Stacey Abrams After Second Failed Campaign: ‘Stacey Must Own Some Of This’)
“The runoff is a turnout battle and, excepting [sic] Trump, the GOP generally does well,” Johnson added, suggesting that Republican candidate Herschel Walker may benefit from these circumstances as he seeks to unseat Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock of Georgia.
Georgia State Rep. @BeeForGeorgia — a Democrat who ran unsuccessfully for Georgia Secretary of State — was interviewed on Sunday’s @npratc by @NPRMichel, and gave an interesting analysis of her party’s performance in the state’s midterms: https://t.co/lw3Lr6s1Lc #gapol pic.twitter.com/fb31zWRAPX
— Benjamin Payne (@benjaminpayne) November 14, 2022
Experts mostly agreed that Democrats in Georgia were not as active as in 2020, when then-President Donald Trump was on the ballot for his reelection campaign. Abrams also “failed to turn out voters in key Democratic strongholds, such as Henry County, Savannah, Augusta and the suburbs of Atlanta,” per Trey Johnson.
“Four years earlier, we constantly saw outside groups canvassing for Abrams in the same areas. This last election, we ran into one group, Showing Up for Racial Justice, canvassing, and that was maybe three days,” a Georgia-based political strategist told the DCNF on background. He added that “it was odd not to see them. As well, yard signs and large campaign signs were not out for Abrams nor hardly any other Democrat candidate.”
The lack of visible efforts to turnout voters portends trouble for Democrats, given that runoff elections generally have lower turnout than general elections.
“There are two objectives in a runoff: bring your November voters back to the polls, and turn out non-voters…and turnout has so far been disappointing,” said Charles S. Bullock, III, a university professor of political science at the University of Georgia, told the DCNF. He added that Democratic voter turnout efforts run by Abrams had made “no innovations” to creatively turnout voters, to the detriment of Warnock’s runoff campaign.
As Democrats assess the failure of their turnout efforts, questions have emerged regarding the financial management of Abrams’ New Georgia Project. One day before November’s election, the group dismissed a slew of top officials one day before the midterm election and a leaked conference call, obtained by the Washington Free Beacon, revealed that it couldn’t afford to pay their staff.
The group’s Chief Financial Officer, Nicholas Frazier, “was terminated after warning the group’s leaders that they were engaged in potential financial impropriety and urging them to bring in a forensic accountant to right the ship,” the Free Beacon’s report also stated.
The experts report low enthusiasm among Democrats to actively support Warnock’s candidacy, while Republican efforts have grown in sophistication and funding. Control of the Senate has been retained by Democrats following Democratic Lt. Gov. John Fetterman of Pennyslvania’s win, with Warnock’s candidacy being less consequential than in 2020, where it secured the chamber for Democrats in a 50-50 Senate.
“After 2020, the GOP realized that it had a weak ground game turning out voters at the grassroots, and started its own get-out-the-vote program,” said former Republican State Sen. Eric Johnson, who served as Georgia’s Senate President pro tempore, a role analogous to the U.S. Senate Majority Leader. Sen. Johnson cited the efforts as key to Kemp’s gubernatorial victory and ensuring Warnock faced a runoff.
Sen. Johnson, for his part, believes that Democratic organizations “had more money than [Brian] Kemp to pay people to organize, knock on doors and turn out voters.” He rhetorically asked, “It’s a valid question: What percentage was actually spent on get-out-the-vote efforts?”
Even as Georgia Democrats and Warnock’s campaign face voter mobilization issues, Republicans and Walker’s campaign are facing similar trouble. A GOP fundraising email obtained by the DCNF revealed that GOP workers “are having trouble raising money [and] motivating volunteers for Walker.”
Though Kemp has endorsed Walker and campaigned with him on Saturday, some Georgia voters, including Republicans, remain skeptical of his candidacy. “The base likes Walker, but moderate GOP voters and independents are concerned about his background,” said Sen. Johnson.
Bullock, meanwhile, said that Walker, who won 48.5% in the general election, may not have the votes to win.
“The Libertarian vote in the Senate race was three times what it was in the governor’s race, and we generally assume that Libertarians break for the GOP,” he said, adding that Libertarians, whose votes comprised 2.1% in the election, “are mostly going to sit out this one.”
Abrams and the New Georgia Project did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
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