In the January federal runoff election in Georgia, voter turnout skyrocketed. While 57 percent of Georgia’s 2008 general election voters turned out for that year’s election runoffs, 91 percent of Georgia’s 2020 general election voters turned out for the most recent runoffs. This begs the question: what mobilized so many more individuals to vote this January than in 2008? There were multiple, extraneous factors, but one driver of voter turnout was grassroots campaigning.
- 2 million – New Georgia Project knocked over 2 million doors in the leadup to the runoff elections. Other groups knocked thousands more. (The New York Times)
- 5 million – In addition to door knocking, New Georgia Project also made 5 million phone calls, focusing on voters of color. They also sent 3 million text messages. (Vox)
- 1 million – Latino group Mi Familia Vota sent 1 million text messages leading up to the runoffs, micro-targeting the growing Latino population in the state. (11 alive)
- 16 – The Georgia Democratic Party held phone banks in 16 different languages, reaching voters of many cultures and ethnicities. (WABE)
- Over 1,000 – The Republican National Committee and the National Republican Senatorial Committee sent over 1,000 staffers to Georgia, plus thousands of additional volunteers to knock doors and work the field. (WABE)
- 2,165 – A delegation of Republicans from California traveled 2,165 miles to Georgia to knock doors for former Sens. Loeffler and Perdue, showing the national party’s investment in the Georgia races. (LA Times)
- 300 – College Republicans made calls in Georgia as part of their distributed organizing program, demonstrating the wide range of Gen Z involvement in this race. (CNN)
These grassroots actions made an impact, particularly in close races. In the general election, Senator Jon Ossoff received fewer votes than former Senator David Perdue in Georgia. In January’s runoffs, Ossoff came back and beat Perdue, but by a mere 55,232 votes. Between November 2020 and the runoff election in January 2021, more than 75,000 new voters registered to vote in Georgia amidst grassroots campaigning in their communities.
While grassroots activation and corresponding voter turnout hit unprecedented numbers surrounding U.S. elections this cycle, many of the tactics employed can be replicated for any issue campaign. When plotting out campaign strategy, it is important to consider strategic earned media in local outlets, engaging in social media conversations amongst key stakeholders, and initiating constituent outreach through letter-writing or patch-through phone call programs – among other tactics. As we have written before, politics is more personal than ever. One of the most effective ways to reach decisionmakers is to first reach individuals.