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Democrats’ Plan to Win in 2022 Looks a Lot Like 2020 and 2018

Today’s newsletter is a guest post from Georgia, where my colleague Maya King reports on politics in the south.

ATLANTA — Long before Georgia became the center of the American political universe, Stacey Abrams and leagues of Democratic organizers in the Peach State were testing a new strategy to help their party win more elections.

National Democrats largely rejected their calculations, which called for exhausting voter turnout in the reliably blue region of Metro Atlanta, while investing more time and money in evicting rural, young and rare voters of color outside the capital rather than the moderate and independent. white voters in his suburbs.

Strong civil rights interests were at stake, given the history of discrimination against black voters in Georgia and the South.

But there was also tough politics involved in Abrams’ attempt to register millions of new voters. She and her allies hoped they would become the backbone of a coalition that could turn Georgia blue for the first time since Bill Clinton won the state in 1992.

In 2018, Abrams, the current Democratic nominee for governor of Georgia, came extremely close to winning her first campaign for office. In 2020, her organization helped Joe Biden narrowly win the state before boosting the fortunes of two Democrats who won both Senate seats two months later.

The strategy is now widely accepted on the left, although it is expensive. But Abrams, her fellow Democratic candidates and several voter-focused organizations in Georgia are counting on this year again to prove that their 2020 victories were not a fluke made possible by the unpopularity of former President Donald Trump, but rather the continuation. of a trend.

That’s why Way to Win, a collective of progressive Democratic donors and political strategists, is pouring $8.5 million into Georgia’s voter mobilization efforts before November. according to plans first shared with The New York Times.

The group has already paid nearly $4 million to more than a dozen organizations in Georgia, including the Working Families Party and the New Georgia Project, which Ms. Abrams founded in 2014 and whose board of directors is Senator Raphael Warnock, a Democrat who is running. for full-term elections, chaired from 2017 to 2020. The group’s goal is to give Democrats the financial backing to continue supplying the same broad swath of voters as in previous cycles, and the effect of national trends working against them to weaken.

They also feel they have something to prove once again to skeptics in Washington.

“If you talk to these voters — any voter who has been ignored by traditional pundits and traditional institutional leaders — if you build a big tent, they will come,” said Tory Gavito, co-founder, president and chief executive of Way to Win. “I can’t tell you how many rooms I still go where traditional agents will say, ‘Is Georgia really a battlefield?’ And it’s like, are you kidding, how many cycles do we have to go through where Georgia’s leaders really show the power of a multiracial coalition?”

To win the big races across the state, Georgian Democrats are counting on a high turnout from the same coalition that brought them success in 2018 and 2020: a mix of loyal, rainy voters alongside a critical mass of moderate, independent and rare voters.

But the outside forces that get them to the polls or not look very different from the two previous election cycles. While anti-Trump sentiment, a nationwide movement against systemic racism and coronavirus-related provisions that widened access to the vote drove record turnout in 2020, voters this year are eyeing rising prices and concerns about an economic recession, fueling their enthusiasm. tempered. They are also battling a new, more restrictive voting law passed by the Republicans who control the state legislature and the governor’s house.

Way to Win’s investment reflects a growing awareness among Democratic donors that early money matters even more in a difficult medium-term cycle.

A Atlanta Journal-Constitution poll On Wednesday, just over 60 percent of likely Democratic voters said they believed the country was on the wrong track. That same poll showed that Abrams was trailing her Republican opponent, government Brian Kemp, by five percentage points. Warnock’s race in the Senate against Herschel Walker, the leading candidate and former University of Georgia football icon, is statistically even. Political agents and observers in both parties expect the campaigns to be among the most expensive in the country this year.

And as long as the economy remains the main theme of the election, Georgian Republicans are pinning the country’s economic woes directly on Democratic leaders in Washington, warning that President Joe Biden’s policies will trickle further south if Abrams wins in November. .

Speaking to supporters in McDonough, Georgia on Friday morning, Kemp scolded what he called “the Biden-Abrams agenda for Georgia.”

“Stacey Abrams campaigned for Joe Biden, publicly auditioned to be his vice president, celebrated his victory and took credit for his win,” Kemp said. He also condemned her for “listening to TV hosts on MSNBC, her major donors in New York and California, and liberal elites who can stay in their basements for months.”

Democrats are also running for a number of races, including the Attorney General and the Secretary of State — two offices that have proven their importance in the face of abortion and election security developments.

Many groups, especially those led by people of color, have long disapproved of money dumps from major, national donors that don’t come in until September or October — or, as Britney Whaley of the Working Families Party puts it, “the holiday, birthday and giving of special occasions.”

By that time, Whaley, who heads the Southeast Progressive Group’s regional organization, said it’s often too late for the groups looking to mobilize hard-to-reach voters to make a big difference.

“Had we not created the conditions on the ground that prepared us for January 5, all the money in the world would have been for nothing,” she said, referring to the day Warnock and Senator Jon Ossoff were elected in 2021. Those two wins allowed Democrats to claim a majority in the Senate, freeing up the billions in spending that Republicans now criticize as wasteful and inflationary.

Spending money several months before voting starts, Whaley added, “should really be the default.”

The National Organizing Branch of the Working Families Party has also taken note of both its strategy and implications for future elections. Maurice Mitchell, the party’s national director, said the Georgia model of balancing reliable blue voters in cities with new groups of voters in rural areas could be replicated in other battlefield states, such as Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

And he warned against overdoing the debates between pundits and Democratic strategists that have continued since Warnock and Ossoff’s seemingly unlikely victories: should the Democratic Party step up its efforts to win back the white working-class voters they’ve had over the years? eighty steadily, going after the highly educated suburban dwellers rejected by Trump, or sticking to Abrams’ approach to bringing new voters and communities into a multiracial, rural-urban alliance?

“The framework is there, and I think there have been plenty of examples in recent history that it worked,” Mitchell said. “I think we have to fight for every vote, but the idea that we would sort of zero-sum or prioritize communities of color or progressives or young people in order to reach moderate or swinging voters, I think that’s a dangerous one. strategy.”

  • Democrats on the House panel investigating the events of the Jan. 6 attack are skeptical of a bipartisan Senate proposal to reform the Electoral Count Act. Politico reported: this week.

  • Alan Feuer and Katie Benner explained former President Donald Trump’s fake election manifesto.

  • In The Atlantic Oceanwrites Barton Gellman about how just six states could undermine the 2024 election.

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On Politics regularly shows work by photographers from the Times. Here’s what Kenny Holston told us about capturing the image above:

As a photojournalist who has been reporting on former President Donald Trump in one way or another since 2016, I know that a chaotic scene is never far behind him.

This was the case earlier this week when Trump returned to Washington, DC for the first time since leaving.

Officers from the Metropolitan Police Department lined the street in front of the Marriott Marquis hotel, where Trump spoke at a meeting of the America First Policy Institute. Anti-Trump protesters stood on one side of the police line and Trump supporters on the other.

Officers broke up a few skirmishes between the dueling demonstrations as hotel guests watched the disorder unfold from the lobby window, while a large box truck carrying oscillating images of Trump and his 2020 election loss on its sides circled the block repeatedly.

In an effort to get this scene across in one photo, I decided to use the reflection in the hotel window. I got very close to the glass with my camera and tilted the camera slightly, which allowed me to see partially through the glass while also capturing everything reflected in it, as shown in the photo above.

Thank you for reading. We’ll see you Monday.

— Blake

Is there anything you think we’re missing? Something you want to see more of? We would love to hear from you. Email us at onpolitics@nytimes.com.

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