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Georgia Senate runoff race | Democrats hope for 2021 runoff repeat

Victories in 2021 by now Senators Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock represented the first U.S. Senate runoffs Democrats had ever won in Georgia.

ATLANTA — If you vote Democrat in Georgia, you're likely going to be hearing from left-leaning get-out-the-vote groups over the next month.

"We are implementing a layered approach on doors, phones, texts, and other outreach to re-touch people we have already engaged this year," said Kendra Cotton, CEO of the New Georgia Project Action Fund. 

On Wednesday, Cotton's organization along with Black Voters Matter, Care in Action, CASA in Action, and the Asian American Advocacy Fund held a press conference to discuss the Midterm Election and efforts to support Sen. Raphael Warnock in his upcoming runoff election with Republican challenger Herschel Walker. 

"'Do we need everyone to start making a plan to go out and vote?', 'Absolutely.' And the voters are literally about to start hearing from us like today," Executive Director of Care in Action Hillary Holley said. 

Speakers said they're waiting to see how undecided Senate races in other states will shake out to see what role Georgia plays in deciding the balance of power in Washington. They're also interested to see how voters receive Walker as a candidate without any other Republicans on the ballot, as during the runoff the Warnock-Walker race will be the only item on the ballot.

"It will be interesting to see what happens in Arizona and Nevada - that will decide the significance of Georgia. I think that will be in play and how strong is Walker there is a question of how strong will Walker be on his own standing as a candidate," Co-founder of Black Voters Matter LaTosha Brown said. 

Until recently, Georgia Democrats hadn't performed well in U.S. Senate runoffs. In 1992 and 2008, the party lost runoffs after many voters skipped the runoff despite voting in the General Election.

However, in 2021, Warnock and Sen. Jon Ossoff both won their runoffs.

Democratic activists said a contributing factor was recent work developing successful outreach programs that have targeted likely Democratic voters with calls, texts, e-mails, and door knocks.

They've continued to see the impact of their work over the last month.

"During the early vote folks that we contacted were at least three times more likely to turn out than folks we didn't contact. So, we feel quite confident that when we reach out to those voters again they're going to show up again," Cotton said. 

However, even during the 2021 runoff, voter turnout from the General Election to the runoff still dropped off, according to University of Georgia Political Science Professor Charles Bullock

During an interview with 11Alive on Wednesday, Bullock said both parties will need to battle to return their voters to the polls for the runoff on Dec. 6.

"It was a 10 percent drop off, so they're going to try to guard against that, that is going to be hard to do and they aren't going to be successful in doing it all together, so first thing you do is try to get as many people back as voted for you last time," Bullock said.

Another concern could be the short timeframe between Tuesday's General Election and the runoff. 

In 2021, the runoff took place 63 days after the General Election. This year, there will only be 28 days in between. 

Cotton, during Wednesday's press conference, advocated for voters to cast their ballots in-person if they can, instead of voting by absentee ballot. The reason is the short timeframe will give voters little time to request, receive and then successfully return an absentee ballot to be counted. 

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