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MEMO: Ossoff, Warnock Well-Positioned to Win Competitive Georgia Runoffs

TO: Interested Parties

FROM: Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee

DATE: November 9, 2020

MEMO: Ossoff, Warnock Well-Positioned to Win Competitive Georgia Runoffs 

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In less than two months, Georgians will return to the polls for two highly competitive runoffs to elect new leaders to the U.S. Senate who will break through the Washington infighting to pass coronavirus relief and protect health care for Georgia families. 

Tuesday’s results confirmed Georgia is a battleground with President-Elect Joe Biden poised to carry the state and improved Democratic performance across key counties from 2016 to 2020. The surest sign these seats are in play is the amount of money Republicans are prepared to spend to prop up weak incumbents. Jon Ossoff and Reverend Raphael Warnock each begin their respective races in a strong position with momentum on their side and a path to victory on January 5, 2020. 

BATTLEGROUND GEORGIA 

As of Sunday, November 8, President-Elect Biden held a 10,000-vote lead over soon-to-be-former President Trump. He will be the first Democrat to win the state since 1992, and that success continues the trend toward Democratic candidates. As Stacey Abrams’ organization Fair Fight noted in a report published last year: in 2012, President Obama lost by an 8-point deficit; in 2014, Senate candidate Michelle Nunn lost by a 7.8-point deficit; that fell to a 5.1-point deficit for former Secretary Clinton in 2016; and then shrank to a 1.4-point deficit for Abrams in 2018.

These gains were observed down ballot, too: last week, Democrats flipped Georgia’s 7th District – one of three red-to-blue swings nationwide. And, despite facing well-financed incumbents who started with massive cash on hand advantages, both Ossoff and Warnock forced runoffs in their races. 

Three key dynamics have moved Georgia firmly into battleground status, starting with the growth of the Atlanta suburbs. A close look at the Atlanta Metro Area shows the improvement in Democratic performance from as recently as 2016: 

County Clinton Margin
2016
Biden Margin 
2020
Cobb+2+14
DeKalb+66+67
Douglas+11+25
Gwinnett+6+18

An analysis from the New York Times noted that in addition to gains in the Atlanta region, Biden and Democrats “added to [Clinton’s] margin in the state, especially in the counties that are home to Georgia’s most important second-tier cities — Augusta, Columbus, Macon, Savannah and Athens.” 

Another critical factor is the massive investment and new programming led by a consortium of organizations to register new voters: more than 800,000 Georgians registered to vote after 2018. From the Washington Post

  • In 2016, 22 percent of Georgia’s eligible voters were not registered. This year, that figure stood at 2 percent. Turnout, meanwhile, jumped to more than 67 percent of eligible voters, breaking the state’s 40-year record of 63 percent, set in 2008.

Finally, the push to register more voters was matched by efforts to ensure they turn out and that their vote counted. In addition to the voter registration work, Democratic organizations including the DSCC and groups like Fair Fight also vigorously fought against voter suppression efforts and to protect voting rights across the country and especially in Georgia. This election, a historic 3.8 million Georgians cast their ballots in the early vote alone. The results show how Georgia has become a battleground where Democrats can compete and win.

THE CASE AGAINST KELLY LOEFFLER 

An unelected Senator, Kelly Loeffler enters the runoff in a weak position after a scandal-plagued year and her brutal fight with Congressman Doug Collins. She’s failed to adequately answer for her stock trading scandal. After a Senators-only private briefing on COVID-19, Loeffler and her husband sold up to $3 million in stock holdings, and her husband bought stock in a company that makes PPE and in a teleworking company — even though she continued to downplay the threat of coronavirus. Now, her favorability is underwater and she has a double-digit deficit with independent voters. Even Republicans have worried about her campaign and said earlier this year that she should drop out of the race for the good of her party.

Reverend Raphael Warnock finished in first place in the special election. He grew up in public housing in Savannah and was the first person in his family to graduate from college, and now serves as Senior Pastor at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, the former pulpit of Martin Luther King. Reverend Warnock believes his service does not stop at the church door and has been a vocal advocate for the dignity of working people, expanding Medicaid, and restoring voting rights.

Loeffler and her allies – including a super PAC funded by her husband – spent $31 million this year for a lackluster second-place finish. Now, Republican operatives are planning to spend upwards of $100 million to falsely attack Reverend Warnock and distract from any continued scrutiny of how Senator Loeffler has looked out for herself, her corporate allies and wealthy associates – not Georgians. 

THE CASE AGAINST DAVID PERDUE 

Senator David Perdue doesn’t deserve to be re-elected. He has opposed economic relief for workers, engaged in heavy stock trading as the outbreak spread across Georgia, and has supported taking away protections for people with pre-existing conditions, even in the middle of this pandemic. He spent the last six years in Washington hiding from his constituents and avoiding the press, refusing to hold a single public town hall in his entire term. He ended his general election campaign ducking a debate to avoid being held accountable. He hasn’t been seen or heard from since he was forced into the runoff.

Jon Ossoff, who was mentored by Congressman John Lewis, runs a business that investigates corruption, organized crime, and war crimes for international news organizations. Jon’s wife Alisha is an OBGYN doctor who has been on the front lines of this pandemic and contracted COVID-19 earlier this year while caring for patients in Georgia. So Jon understands it is vital to ensure every American can afford the care they need — and the importance of listening to medical experts, especially in a public health emergency.

Jon will defend the protections for pre-existing conditions we fought so hard for in the Affordable Care Act. And because he fights corruption for a living, we know he will stand up to insurance and drug companies to ensure health care is affordable for everyone.

Mitch McConnell’s Super PAC spent more money attacking Jon than nearly any other Democratic Senate challenger this year, a sign of how nervous Washington Republicans were about losing this seat in a highly competitive runoff.

HISTORIC DSCC INVESTMENT TO CONTINUE IN RUNOFFS

The DSCC spent more than $5.5 million this cycle supporting the Ossoff and Warnock campaigns to help force these runoffs, including a $1.8 million mail program and $400,000 on phone calls to reach Georgia voters. The DSCC invested more than $1 million in the Democratic Party of Georgia to support field organizing and other staff,  $1.5 million in coordinated funds for Ossoff and nearly $900,000 for Warnock to bolster paid media going into Election Day.

These historic investments will continue in the runoffs: the DSCC will commit to a multimillion dollar field effort to register Georgians for the January 5th runoffs and turn out voters. The program will include on-the-ground organizers, direct mail, phones and text messaging as well as digital mobilization efforts.

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DSCC FRIDAY TAKEAWAYS, POST-ELECTION EDITION: DOUBLE RUNOFF IN GEORGIA & SENATE MAJORITY REMAINS IN PLAY

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