Atlanta – All eyes are on Georgia for the next couple of months ahead of the run-off and special elections on January 5. These elections determine the fate of the U.S. Senate. There are two seats up for grabs. If both seats go to Democratic candidates, congressional Democrats obtain a monopoly in the executive and legislative branches of government.
If just one Republican candidate wins, however, the Senate goes to Republicans. Four political campaigns are organizing more than ever to ensure supporters turn out for the January 5 elections. With the nation fixated on Georgia, how will candidates manage the pressure?
Why are elections happening in Georgia?
There are two elections in Georgia on January 5 — a run-off and a special election. The run-off election is required by state law. This election occurs only if a majority is not reached by a candidate in a general or primary election. Similar rules are in effect throughout the South including in Arkansas, North Carolina, and Texas.
Kelly Loeffler (R) was appointed as a junior Georgia senator earlier this year. In the special election, Georgia had to pick a new senator to replace Johnny Isakson, who retired for health reasons. Neither Loeffler nor her challenger, Reverend Dr. Raphael G. Warnock (D) obtained a majority vote on November 3. With two races and four candidates, Georgia will remain a hot topic in political news.
Voter turnout — what will it look like for Democrats?
In an interview at a drive-in rally, Democratic candidate Jon Ossoff suggested Georgia can turn blue. Though the state has historically swayed red in these elections, “There’s…a feeling of invigoration here,” Ossoff said.
Vying for Senator David Perdue’s spot in the run-off election, Ossoff needs unprecedented turnout from Democrats. Ossoff came up nearly 87,000 votes short on November 3. Since neither candidate won a majority, Ossoff now has a second chance to win.
Statewide, Democrats will need to win by large margins. To meet that need, there are a few key organizations that successfully register and turn out voters en masse. One notable player is Stacey Abrams. Founder of Fair Fight and the New Georgia Project, Abrams maintained a crucial role in flipping Georgia blue for Biden.
Warnock, pastor of Atlanta’s iconic Ebenezer Baptist Church, is hosting virtual press conferences on healthcare. In a press release, Warnock said the healthcare discussion is a “core” difference between himself and his opponent, Kelly Loeffler. Warnock focused his message on protecting pre-existing conditions, expanding Medicaid, and making healthcare affordable for working families.
Voter turnout — what will it look like for Republicans?
Passion will likely be the deciding factor in these elections. Scott Johnson, a state Board of Education member and former GOP chair of Cobb County, said changing minds is unlikely. “It’s not about changing people’s minds, in most cases,” Johnson told Politico. In light of this, Republican candidates must reach out to their base and like-minded nonvoters to out-organize Democrats.
Republicans are no strangers to organizing. In fact, Republicans believe they are currently running the largest field program in Georgia’s history. 1,000 staff are spread around the state, led by 21 regional directors. The National Republican Senatorial Committee said it is a “presidential-level voter-contact operation.”
Having lost the presidential race, the Republicans are investing heavily in the senate races. The Republican National Committee is also getting involved. Brian Barrett, its regional political director, said they are sending 600 staff members to Georgia.
Although there’s been no proof of widespread cheating in the recent election, Georgia’s Republican leadership is firm on voter fraud. When the idea of people moving to Georgia to vote blue went viral on social media, Republicans spoke out. Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said in a written statement last week, “Let me be clear, those who come to Georgia with the intention of voter fraud will be prosecuted.”
Will Georgia’s Democrats turn out a larger vote than Republicans? Additionally, will the state’s Republican leadership push voter fraud accusations if Democrats win?
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