by Wade Rathke
January 5, 2021
New Orleans The double-barreled Senate runoff in Georgia has been something to watch, and even more interesting on the ground, as our team found doing our part to assure voter access and participation in this election. No one can accurately predict the results. Polling has become so unreliable in the wake of the misfires in 2016, and more recently in November, that no one knows how to call these races other than to say that it’s too close to call. The polls that are reported indicate a slight lead for the challengers, Jon Ossoff and Rev. Raphael Warnock, over the incumbents Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue, but with leads only in the margins of error. Of course, as even small children and large dogs know, at stake is control of the US Senate and potentially the political agenda of the Biden administration for the next four years.
Some facts are certain though. Where the 2020 campaign was noteworthy and jeopardized, in my view, by the unwillingness of the Democrats to run field programs that included door knocking beginning in the summer, as the Republicans did, that has decidedly not been the case in this last campaign of the cycle. ACORN and the Voter Purge Project, joined for a week by the Local 100 United Labor Unions team, were some of hundreds, perhaps thousands, on the doors to make sure that voters of all stripes and sizes knew the details for registration, early voting, and mail balloting for the election. A goal of a million doors has been reported. Certainly, we hit 15,000 and collected about 1500 “count-on-me” signatures committing to vote. I listened to the head of the Republican Party in Georgia conceding that they had not mobilized an equivalent field program in the state, which is interesting given how strong their program was nationally for the Trump campaign.
We targeted groups most likely to have issues with voter suppression and did a phone match on three million Georgians on the voter list, pulling all African-Americans and all other voters under 35-years of age that generated more than 600,000 numbers that we texted with the voter information as well. Reportedly, of the 75,000 new registrants more than half were under 35-years old, which is also significant.
Whether on the doors or reviewing the responses to our texting outreach, one thing that is certain is that voters in Georgia were well aware of the election, and they were for the most part committed to vote. Analysis of the early voting indicates that people weren’t lying to us. Turnout coming into Election Day was higher than in the presidential election, which is unheard of.
No one knows the impact of President Trump’s continued efforts to delegitimize the election on his base and others, though he has once again gone past the pale as his recent call to the secretary of state proves. Nor can the weight of the barrage of media be fully measured. Total expenditures from campaigns and outside groups best $800 million now. There was no place to hide.
Five thirty-eight reminds that the last time there was a double-barreled election that provided a split verdict was 1966, so this one seems likely to also be for all the marbles, winner take all. We did our job in contributing work to make sure suppression was opposed and voters got to the polls, now it’s all over but the shouting.
Wade Rathke is founder and chief organizer of ACORN and ACORN International. You can find Wade’s recent past posts here Chief Organizer Reports. And you can link to his website here Chief Organizer ACORN/ACORN International.