All eyes are on Georgia. The state unexpectedly flipped blue after decades of consistently voting for the Republican presidential candidate—but how did that happen? Organizing AAPIs and increasing their voter turnout were crucial to adding over 100,000 votes to Biden’s tally. As Markos has written previously, there were historic increases in voter turnout for all communities of color, but there was a whopping 91.3% increase in voter turnout of AAPIs—the largest increase of any group.
To better understand what changed between 2016 and this year in Georgia, we need to take a deeper look at the shifting demographics of the Peach State, which includes a growing AAPI population that is made up of large numbers of immigrants and young people. As Aisha explained, AAPIs have historically been overlooked, and there is very little (if any) outreach to this diverse group of people that is made up of dozens of ethnicities and countless languages and dialects—which is why it’s been so important for groups to do work on the ground.
Through outreach focused on issues like healthcare, Aisha said, AAAF has been able to flip Trump voters and convince them to vote for Ossoff and Warnock. Elaborating on their strategy, she explained:
When we talk about our issues and we talk about candidates that we want our community to support, it’s always about the issues that are most important to them. So it’s, You want access to healthcare? Let us help elect people that will get you that healthcare access … [We pull] that local issue into a very national sense. So although healthcare is a very national and federalized issue … we do have local ways to tie into how that impacts our communities here. Now, when we talk about what does the Democratic Party mean for our communities, it’s not necessarily what can the Democratic Party do for us; it’s about how can we make sure that we get what we need from the Democratic Party? And we continue to force the conversation and the issues that we and our communities need.
Asked by Markos whether she thinks there’s more room to grow the AAPI vote, Aisha had this to say:
I think that there’s always room to grow, and I think that it starts at making the voting process more equitable and accessible for more people. So that starts with pushing for legislation that makes not just registering to vote easy, but makes it easier to access absentee voting. Our community has grown to love absentee voting, and I don’ think we’re ever going to change that … The more that we push for reforms at the state level more at the local level, the more change we’re going to see. Just this past cycle, we were able to work with a couple of counties, especially DeKalb, to start providing language access materials in Spanish and in Korean. … We [want to] not just expand the voter base, but make the process much easier.
Cara agreed and also offered her advice from her time as an organizer in the Deep South: “If you’re in this work for the long haul, it really is about the communities themselves. Let the communities themselves lead the way in how the reform is going to happen.”
Paul joined for the second half of the episode to share more about the work Daily Kos has done to support organizations on the ground in their GOTV efforts. Daily Kos assists campaigns and organizations by promoting their events and volunteer recruitment efforts to our community. Through this year’s email recruitment for GOTV efforts, Paul shared, Daily Kos received over 107,700 signups to volunteer prior to Nov. 3.
One of the ways volunteers can get involved is through letter writing via Vote Forward to voters in key swing states who may not have a consistent track record of voting. According to Paul, of 17 million letters sent, Daily Kos volunteers were responsible for 2.5 million of those.
Asked by Cara if he felt hopeful about Georgia after seeing these numbers and the enthusiasm for GOTV efforts, Paul said,
I’m cautiously pessimistic given [the general dropoff in voter turnout between November and December] … but I’m also very excited because control of the Senate is at stake, and because of all the incredible on the ground organizing that has been going on for the last 12-15 years to get out the vote. And I will say, as entertaining as it is to read about those stories of Republicans in disarray and the hidden deplorables and whether they’ll come back, we can’t control that. All of that is beyond our control, so I try not to think about it. If anything, I avoid it because I don’t want to get complacent … The only thing I’m obsessed with right now is, can we get the same folks who voted last time to come out and vote again?
It’s not too late to help Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock win their special elections next year. For more information on how you can get involved ahead of Jan. 5, or to sign up and help get out the vote with Daily Kos, click here!
You can watch the full episode below.