Gretchen's List: Georgia on my Mind

Dear Friends,

It has been both one week and 87 years since last Tuesday’s elections. As a native Pennsylvanian, I’ve spent most of my time looking at Gritty memes (paired with Tik Toks ripping on Nevada and jokes about Four Seasons Total Landscaping, for a balanced media diet) and taking full credit for saving democracy (even though I’m a California voter now). In all sincerity, though, the relief is tangible, and before I dive back into the work to be done, I hope you’ll take a moment to relish it.

And then, of course, I’ve been figuring out what to do next. While I am deeply grateful Joe Biden won, the failure to win back the Senate or flip state legislative chambers is a real blow, and it will require a deep post mortem to formulate a plan for 2022. I have some initial thoughts below, as I’ve started my thinking on this.

But in the shorter term, we still have Georgia! (And, in fact, we still have Alaska, which starts counting mail-in ballots today. Polling had challenger Al Gross not too far behind — for what Senate polling is worth this cycle, which seems to be nothing. The Gross campaign seems confident they can still pull this off, which would give us a chance of achieving not just parity, but a majority in the Senate. I believe it’s still a long-shot. After checking with the campaign, there’s no ballot curing or other outreach that needs to happen right now, so we just need to wait.)

Finally: Donald Trump is probably going to run in 2024, and even if he doesn’t, another candidate embracing Trumpism will. So let’s keep fighting.



P.S. The Biden transition team has a great website, so you can see how Joe is hitting the ground running (and take notes on where we’ll need to push the new administration): Build Back Better.

The Georgia Plan

To recap: the run-off races are between Jon Ossoff and incumbent David Perdue, and Raphael Warnock and interminable grifter Kelly Loeffler. Voter registration ends December 7th (so, if you’re looking to move, do it quickly); early voting begins December 14th; election day is January 5th.

I believe we can win these seats. We are probably not favored to win either, but we have the infrastructure in Georgia to pull it off (thanks, Stacey!) and it’s all we’ve got left. Furthermore, I believe that we’ll either win both seats or neither. No one is going to the polls and voting for Loeffler and Ossoff, or Warnock and Perdue. It’s just a question of which campaigns and which party does a better job of getting voters to the polls.

Where to Spend Money

I made this slate, which is your one-stop shop for donating to both campaigns, the Georgia Democratic Party, Fair Fight, and the New Georgia Project Action Fund. You can give to any or all of them, and customize your amounts for each. The slate has raised over $48,000 for Georgia since I first shared on social media on Friday, and it’s my goal to get it over $100k before the week is over, so please share widely! More about each recommendation:

  • Warnock and Ossoff Campaigns. Campaigns get the best rates on ad buys, they are closest to the candidates, and these two are working in close coordination. Get money into them early. You can give up to $2800 to each candidate in the run-off even if you gave to their primary and/or general election campaigns.

  • Georgia Democratic Party. All that ballot tracking and curing that will need to happen? The coordination of out-of-state volunteers? That will largely happen through the state Democratic party, and they are far less likely to get in funding than the campaigns.

  • Fair Fight. This is Stacey Abrams’s most recent organization, working to coordinate statewide efforts and protect the vote, and continue the fight for a progressive Georgia.

  • New Georgia Protect Action Fund. Founded by Stacey Abrams in 2013, the New Georgia Project has registered over 400,000 Georgians to vote since then, primarily young voters and voters of color. I expect that both campaigns and Fair Fight will be overwhelmed with incoming donations in the next few weeks. If you need to triage your giving, I encourage you to fund New Georgia Project, as other donors might focus on the other efforts on this list.

If you use this slate to give at least $200 each to the Warnock and Ossoff campaigns (or, if you’d already used my link at that level), you’ll get an invitation to this event next Tuesday.

Other people have recommended ProGeorgia if you’re looking for a 501(c)3 (tax-deductible!) place to give.

How to Spend Time

When considering how to spend your time, please remember that for the time being Fair Fight and others are not asking for swarms of national volunteers, and are concerned that overly saturating the race with volunteers from outside of Georgia might backfire. Right now, the best thing you can do is send money and wait and see how you can be more helpful as the races get closer.

  • For Anyone: This upcoming weekend is Fair Fight’s Runoff GOTV Weekend of Action Phone and Text Bank.

  • For Georgians, and especially lawyers: The Biden and Ossoff campaigns need your help to observe the vote tally in locations throughout GA, which may determine control of the Senate and White House. Certification observers will be trained by the Democratic Party of Georgia. Sign up here.

Sidenote: everyone is talking about Georgia; everyone has a plan for Georgia; all donors and organizers have their own upcoming events to benefit Georgia; there are about five different random Google forms I’ve seen for people who want to volunteer in Georgia. It all goes to the same goal, and this is an all-hands on deck moment. You do what works for you — I’m just outlining my thought process here.

What happened in the Senate?

A lot of our hope of winning the Senate was pinned on reddish states, where we expected Trump would win the Electoral College (or recognized that a Biden victory would be a long-shot), but hoped voters would split their ticket and vote for Democrats for Senate. That didn’t happen. I made this table to help organize my thinking.

Republican Senate candidates generally won by lesser margins than Trump, which speaks to the strength of our Democratic candidates and their campaigns, but they still won. If the Presidential election had been closer in these states, a few more candidates might have pulled it out. But we underestimated Trump’s support, and overestimated our good faith in our fellow citizens.

What about Maine? This result was really tough to swallow. Did we underestimate the power of incumbency? Did we think that Mainers cared about what the rest of the country thinks? Did Susan Collins save herself with her Supreme Court vote at the last moment? Probably all of those things, and more. Collins has always presented herself as a moderate; it’s clear many Mainers believe her to be one, and felt it was consistent to vote for both Biden and Collins. (This article goes into more detail: “Susan Collins Was Never Going to Lose.") The good news? We can probably get this Senate seat in six years when Collins retires. And hopefully we’ll have a candidate as deserving as Sara Gideon when we do.

What does this mean? Looking ahead, I think we can’t count on winning Senate seats in red states, and when we do, we should consider it the exception. If we want win the Senate majority, we need to create more blue states. We can do this through aggressive, in-depth, prolonged organizing as we saw pay off in Georgia, with Texas and North Carolina probably next on our list. Or we can literally create more blue states (hello, Washington, Douglass Commonwealth). It also means: Biden won Georgia; we can win those Senate seats. Onward.

Donor, sociologist, obsessive researcher. Board member at WDN Action and Emerge America, and steering committee member at Electing Women Bay Area -- but all content here is mine alone and not on behalf of any organization. My goals are to help others find their networks and feel more comfortable and informed participating in the political giving space.