Democrats in Georgia say voters care about COVID and get financial relief over all other issues – and that Donald Trump’s afternoon demand for more direct payments is helping them with their existing message.
Since the double senate runoff began in Georgia, Democrats and Progressives have told supporters that only three people standing in the way of the Congress Democrats have a chance to expand relief efforts and direct aid in the next congressional session: Sens. David Perdue, Kelly Loeffler and Mitch McConnell.
Lawyers’ groups have converged across Georgia over the past month as Congress negotiates a massive COVID assistance program that includes unemployment insurance and business assistance – and a direct payment of $ 600 to those whose incomes fall below a certain threshold. These payments, which were added to the latest deal following a joint effort by sens.Bernie Sanders and Josh Hawley, have become last-minute breaking points.
In a video sent to Twitter late Tuesday night, Trump called $ 900 billion. emergency bill a “disgrace” and threatened to veto the bill if Congress did not increase direct payments to $ 2,000 from the proposed $ 600, which he called “ridiculously low.”
Democrats running in Georgia, Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock, immediately announced that they supported the president’s call.
“As always, President Trump is irregular and everywhere. But at this point he is right tonight, ”Ossoff said in one CNN interview Tuesday evening. “$ 600 is a joke. They should send $ 2,000 dollars to the American people right now because people are hurting. “He added that Perdue had opposed and prevented direct payments.
Perdue and Loeffler are now in an uncomfortable position as they struggle to retain their seats. McConnell reportedly urged Republican senators to support a new round of direct payments because Loeffler and Perdue were “hammered” for the month-long delay in aid, as direct payments, to Americans.
On the campaign track and in recently released ads, after the deal was announced, both Loeffler and Perdue praised the relief proposal and highlighted the second round of direct relief that would be issued to Americans.
Following Trump’s announcement, Loeffler told the press that she would “look” at supporting rising direct payments “if it recycles wasteful spending.” A spokesman for Perdue did not respond to comment on whether he supported the president’s call for increased direct payments.
“This wrench that Trump has thrown into their plans has given Ossoff and Warnock the chance to remind Georgia voters that they are both on board with increased direct payments,” a spokesman for Warnock’s campaign told BuzzFeed News. “Meanwhile, Loeffler and Perdue are now in a tough spot, trying to explain why they are pushing for the Georgians to get less relief, which even Trump is against.”
Extended COVID relief and the ability to implement yet another relief package was already one of the biggest tensions in the run-off election before both Trump announcements and the recently adopted relief bill.
“We have had approx. 2 million conversations over 2020 and lots of focus groups and tons of polls since March, ”Nsé Ufot, CEO of the New Georgia Project, told BuzzFeed News. “The biggest number across the board, across race, across age, across gender and geography has become COVID.”
“Our job at the moment has been to connect the mood with the changes that people want to see around COVID as health and economy,” Ufot added.
Progressive groups such as the Working Families Party, the Sunrise Movement and the Georgians for Registration and Increased Turnout (GRIT) have been working on the pandemic and relief efforts in the recovery papers and literature as they knock on doors and call around the state.
“The bottom line is in a very concise way that people are struggling. “People are unemployed, people do not have health insurance, people sometimes do not know where their next meal is coming from, and this is sometimes exacerbated by COVID,” said Britney Whaley, a senior political strategist who runs the Working Families Party’s complaints operation. in Georgia. “It paints this picture of who suffers the most. People know that. They do not have to read a bill of 500 pages to know that this is insufficient. ”
She said the party’s nearly 200 canvases and their telephone banking program have linked candidates to the issue and that they would continue to do so before the race, but many of the Georgians they speak to have made the connection on their own.
“These two senators have been in DC, and in some cases they have created roadblocks and in the opposition. It is not difficult to connect that we have two senators who have been in DC for several months and who have been back and forth while fighting for our survival, ”Whaley said. “It’s not something we have to tell the average Georgian when we’re at their doors. That’s something they tell us. ”
Support for a new aid package was widespread across the country ahead of the general election, and a New York Times poll showed that 7 out of 10 voters supported a new stimulus program while Congress stopped using emergency aid measures. In Georgia, where 3.9 million people have lost their jobs since the start of the pandemic, a Data for Progress poll in mid-November found that 63% of likely Georgia runaway voters said they would be more likely to support a candidate who supported an additional $ 1,200 stimulus control.
In an early December note, progressive organizations, including the Justice Democrats and the Sunrise Movement, called on Democrats to fight for a separate bill to issue a new round of $ 1,200 checks that would give Democrats “a clear message about something tangible that Democrats want. do for you “that they thought would help the party win the two runoff elections in Georgia.
Shanté Wolfe, Sunrise Movement’s coordinating campaign director, said they decided to sign the letter to highlight a new strategy to connect their movement with southern voters while motivating them to turn up for the polls.
“Sometimes it’s not the message, it’s the sender,” Wolfe said. “When we’re on doors and phones, we’re talking about Ossoff and Warnock and the bigger picture of this race, and how it would secure a 50-50 split, and we’m also talking about utilities and how to pay bills, which are top notch. on people’s minds as we move into 2021. ”She added that the group would push talks on the new stimulus bill during the final days of the race.
For groups like GRIT, the impact of COVID on people’s lives has been one of the most important issues they talk about with voters when they knock on doors in apartment complexes, and it’s one that voters are concerned about. The new bill on COVID and Trump’s criticism of it only gives them more talking points.
“I can guarantee you that the first person’s door I knock on to talk about the election and the COVID stimulus when I’m out to cover again, I want to flat out tell them that this new deal that was made was shit and we need to do better and there’s no way in hell we can do better if we don ‘t get Warnock and Ossoff in, ”Ben Davidson, one of the leaders of GRIT, a hyperlocal organization group that started knocking on doors in apartment complexes in the rapidly diversifying suburbs of Atlanta told BuzzFeed News before Trump’s announcement.
“This is good for us,” Davidson said in an interview following Trump’s announcement. “It helps people and shows that people Loeffler and Perdue do not have people’s best interests. This does not change anything for us and if it provides any more ammunition. ”
Warnock and Ossoff have both made the extension of COVID relief a cornerstone of their campaigns and have pushed the point in ads and on the campaign track – Congressional Republicans pushed for less emergency control during COVID negotiations throughout the year. Democrats fighting in the state, including President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, have characterized the two runoff elections as key to passing any legislation that will expand relief efforts.
“I need two senators from this state who want to do something – not two senators who just get in the way. Because look, getting something done just hurts Georgia. Look at what’s going on right now in Congress, ”Biden told supporters at a run-in meeting in Atlanta last week, listing the political priorities they could help transfer with democratic control of the Senate.
Both Ossoff and Warnock’s campaigns see the problems of direct payments and call for greater economic relief as a boon to link the impact their race could have on Senate control with tangible results for voters if elected. The campaigns plan to continue to criticize Perdue and Loeffler on the subject in the last days before the election.
“It will be focused on how we can ensure that Georgians get what they need and do not suffer from these backroom agreements and legislation that do not take into account the needs of our society,” a Warnock spokesman said.