5 Takeaways From Georgia’s Senate Runoff

Another secret to Democrats’ success in Georgia is patience. A core network of organizers has stuck around for years, building relationships across the state and prioritizing local roots. After the 2021 Senate races, the state Democratic Party immediately hired several of the top brains behind Mr. Warnock’s and Senator Jon Ossoff’s field teams, then asked them to write detailed reports on what they had learned.

“There’s a year-round organizing conversation in Georgia,” said Nse Ufot, the former chief executive of the New Georgia Project, a nonprofit that became an organizing hub for activists across the state. “It’s not transactional.”

If Georgia Republicans were hoping that making it harder to vote would help them win back the Senate seat they lost in 2021, they were wrong. And there are signs that the changes they put in place might have backfired in some respects.

The battle over voting rights kept Mr. Warnock’s base busy between elections. In 2021, when Republicans passed a major new voting law that Democrats and civil rights groups denounced as an attempt to suppress Black votes, the machine went to work. Mr. Warnock’s strategists adjusted their voter contact plans accordingly, while outside activists held protests, organized petition drives and basically kept their network buzzing all year.

“We don’t let it lay dormant,” Ms. Wartel said.

For Gerald Griggs, the president of the Georgia chapter of the N.A.A.C.P., the lesson is not that the outcry over the law was a false alarm, as Republicans have insisted.

Anticipating long lines at the polls, civil rights groups planned “parties to the polls” all over the state, featuring water and live entertainment, just beyond the minimum distance from polling locations mandated by the new rules. And the N.A.A.C.P. threatened to sue counties that allowed frivolous lawsuits under provisions of the voting law that allowed unlimited challenges to individual ballots.

“African Americans in this state know how to mobilize,” Mr. Griggs said. “But you shouldn’t have to out-organize voter suppression.”

Ruth Igielnik contributed reporting.

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