Sat. Apr 13th, 2024

Georgia Democrats brace for a ‘tough fight ahead’ in keeping the state blue in 2024

By 37ci3 Mar13,2024



ATLANTA – Georgia was the biggest Democratic swing in the 2020 election, with Joe Biden becoming the party’s first presidential candidate to win the state in 28 years.

But four years later, some of the organizers who helped orchestrate the historic victory admit they have an uphill climb to keep the state blue as Democrats prepare for a rematch with Donald Trump.

“It’s definitely not going to be a walk in the park,” said LaTosha Brown, co-founder of the voting rights group Black Voters Matter. “I think we are in for a tough fight.”

Brown is among the activists who helped turn out black and young voters, helping to propel Biden to victory in the state in 2020.

But he said the mood among voters was very different this time, as there was a sense of fatigue with the political process.

“You get to the point where people really want to see change, and I think the pace of change for the things they want to see is not happening as fast as they want to see,” Brown said.

“It’s sobering to deal with the reality of how slowly change actually happens,” he said.

In 2020, Biden won Georgia by just 11,779 votes, becoming the first Democratic presidential candidate to carry the state since Bill Clinton in 1992.

Two months after Biden’s victory, Georgia voters sent two more Democrats, Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff, to US Senate runoffs, taking two state seats and control of the Senate from the GOP.

At the time, Georgia was heralded as a model for other local Democratic parties on how to organize and turn out voters in traditionally red states.

But four years later, preliminary polls show Biden losing significant ground in Georgia. Inquiry From The Atlanta Journal-Constitution In January, it showed him trailing Trump by 8 percentage points among registered voters in the state.

The poll also found Biden’s approval rating underwater, including among independents. 10% of black voters said they do not plan to vote in the presidential elections.

Ahead of this week’s Georgia presidential election, Biden and Trump held competitive rallies in the state, stressing the importance of each campaign to their path to victory.

Georgia is guaranteed to be in the spotlight for another reason: It’s home to one of four criminal cases against Trump, who faces charges in Fulton County for allegedly trying to overturn the state’s 2020 presidential election.

While Democrats acknowledge the case could be useful in their efforts to turn voters in Georgia, some strategists point to several missed opportunities to build party enthusiasm. They include choosing Chicago over Atlanta as the site for this summer’s Democratic National Convention.

Kendra Cotton, CEO of the New Georgia Project Action Fund, an affiliate of the group founded by former gubernatorial candidate and voting rights activist Stacey Abrams, said enthusiasm is not the best indicator of turnout.

Who cares if people are enthusiastic or not? What you care about is whether they’re actually going to vote,” Cotton said. “I can tell you that because it’s in the South, it’s rare to have an election where people are so passionate about the candidates, but we still vote.”

Both he and Brown said their approach would be to focus less on the candidate and more on empowering people to know that their vote can change their circumstances. Cotton said it is difficult to educate voters about the achievements of the Biden administration, and he urged Biden’s surrogates to tell more personal stories of people who have benefited from his policies.

“We know that even if people are not that excited to vote for either candidate, they will still be determined to show up and vote,” Cotton said.

Republicans say the lack of excitement for Biden has given them an opening to take back the state in November.

Martha Zoller, a longtime Republican strategist in Georgia, points to Georgia’s 2022 midterm elections as evidence that it is on track. Republicans won nearly every statewide race that year, except for Trump-endorsed Senate candidate Herschel Walker.

Zoller, who is an early primary voter for Nikki Haley, who dropped out of the presidential race, said the message Trump will decide to tour will be key to winning back disenchanted Republican voters, particularly voters in suburban Atlanta counties. Like Gwinnett and Cobb, who were crucial to Biden’s victory.

“You’ve got to get back the people you lost like me: a suburban woman who voted for Trump twice, gave him money, but after Jan. 6, she didn’t want any part of it,” he said. .

“The main thing is, can he be positive enough? This is the tone. He looks forward, not back,” he added. “There are good surrogates in the state who can get the message out. If they can do that, then it will be different because it’s only 12,000 votes. That’s an easy number to overcome, especially if Democrats aren’t too excited to vote for Joe Biden this time around.

Democrats acknowledge that Biden won Georgia in 2020 under unique circumstances amid the pandemic and social unrest caused by the deaths of Ahmed Arberry and George Floyd.

But Fred Hicks, a political consultant in Georgia, said the party will ultimately be united around one goal: beating Trump.

“Donald Trump is the best tool the Democrats have in our arsenal to win in 2024,” Hicks said. “Democrats have a chance as long as Donald Trump is on the ballot in Georgia.”



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