With just two weeks left in the Georgia special election, Democrats are pouring an extra six figures into turning out black voters.
Republicans and Democrats have spent millions on the race to fill Tom Price's former congressional seat this spring.
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is making $150,000 ad buy on black radio, as well as buys in print, digital, and direct mail to help Jon Ossoff, who fell just a few points short of winning 50% of the vote to be elected outright.
The calculus is simple: When black voters turnout for candidates in Greater Atlanta, they win. Black voters make up 13.6% of the voting population in the district, and black Democrats are among the most loyal Democratic voters in the country.
The exceptionally intense focus on the district, which leans fairly red, has made predicting the outcome difficult, especially with unusually high early voter turnout.
A win for Ossoff on June 20 in a red district against former Georgia secretary of state Karen Handel would further serve as a warning that the president’s low popularity just months into his presidency could be potentially damaging electorally. But a loss for Democrats would be yet another blow after suffering losses in Kansas and Montana.
National Democrats are spending in the six figures on local newspaper ads, that say "fight back" by vote early; the print ad lists out polling places and times to vote — accompanied by a big, picture of an angry Donald Trump in the foreground.
A pro-Ossoff ad running now frames indifference about voting as a tool of voter suppression. A mother exhorts her daughter to find her polling place, saying that being “distracted” and “not paying attention to the important dates and stuff that we clearly need to know” — and “missing out on the chance to get back some control in our lives” is ultimately what Trump the administration wants.
Tharon Johnson, a national Democratic strategist who ran Kasim Reed's successful 2009 campaign for Atlanta mayor, said the DCCC’s last-minute push is a smart one: if black voters show up, he predicts Ossoff will win.
Johnson said needs a "colossal" GOTV effort in the black precincts, and if that turnout is down that the campaign has to have an operation in place that they can get voter out to the polls; as a candidate he's provided voters and leaders a real opportunities to him. "He’s got to keep those people engaged and motivated."
Johnson said that Ossoff's candidacy has new people into the political process and that he’s got to focus on those new voters. With many of them perhaps motivated by Trump, the DCCC is using Trump-centric messaging to turn out key voters; it performed black focus groups and found that it's an important motivator for many in the Democratic base in GA-06, a DCCC official said.
Darren Sands is a political reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
Contact Darren Sands at email@example.com.
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