Democrats and Republicans are investing millions to challenge beleaguered Georgia voters ahead of the Senate runoff

(CNN) – In Georgia’s crucial Senate runoff, a clichéd political adage may actually be true: It can all depend on who comes out.

Leading Democrats and Republicans alike recognize that the December 6 Georgia Senate runoff has put an increased focus on the ability of Democratic Senator Raphael Warnock and Republican challenger Herschel Walker to win over voters tired of one participate in another election, leading to campaigns, committees and outside groups spending millions just to get the voting effort out.

While control of the Georgia Senate is not at stake — Democrats retained control of the legislature with a win in Nevada earlier this month — a win in the Southern state would allow the party to secure the power-sharing deal with the to leave Republicans. Republicans, who have just taken control of the House of Representatives, want to build on their victories and keep Democrats from filling their narrow Senate majority.

The reason for the focus on getting the vote stems primarily from the fact that the pool of eligible voters in the runoff will be the same as in the general election, meaning groups will not be able to register new voters before the key contest. The 2021 electoral law in Georgia makes it impossible to register new voters before a run-off election, which will take place just a month after parliamentary elections.

Because of this, spending on getting voters who are already registered is being intensified.

On Thursday, the Warnock campaign — in conjunction with the state’s coordinated campaign and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee — announced that it plans to add about 300 more paid staff to its voter contact program, bringing the total number of paid staff related to the Focus voter attraction increased to 900, a significant number for a single Senate race. Some of that effort is funded by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, which announced this month that it plans to spend $7 million on field organizing efforts in Georgia.

The operation is being run from 19 offices in 18 counties across the state, with a goal of knocking on as many doors ahead of the runoff as it did in the four months before the general.

“Reverend Warnock knows what it takes to win a Georgia runoff,” said Sarafina Chitika, spokeswoman for the Warnock campaign. “The Warnock campaign has built a robust field operation to rally voters across the state and re-elect Reverend Warnock.”

As money begins to flow into the state, some pro-democracy groups are hoping some of those funds will go to local groups focused on turnout.

A Democratic activist familiar with the spending plans of Georgia-based activist groups Unite Here, Asian American Advocacy Fund, Mijente PAC and Black Voters Matter told CNN the coalition is missing millions of dollars to run its campaign programs ahead of the runoff.

“We’re excited that national organizations are coming to Georgia to support Warnock, but the way to seal the deal is to support grassroots organizations at the same time,” the staffer said.

The progressive group New Georgia Project Action Fund will spend about $4 million from the runoff on its phone, text bank and advertising apparatus, according to group CEO Kendra Cotton.

Republicans, too, put money and time into recruiting voters.

The focus on turnout is particularly important for Walker, who finished the general election behind Warnock by over 36,000 votes. That means the onus is on the Republican to increase his share of the vote, especially since popular Republican Gov. Brian Kemp, who was reelected earlier this month, will not be on the ballot and therefore will not help boost turnout in December .

Senate Executive Fund officials have indicated that the best way to get out of the election operation is to fully fund the already working operation that helped get Kemp elected. The leading Republican outside group, which has close ties to Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell, will spend $2 million to fund the operation, which will include a full data and analytics operation, including paid door knocking, phones, modeling and a postal voting program.

Republicans appear to be more concerned about turnout in the runoff, a result of Walker finishing behind Warnock in this month’s general election, and staffers said they learned from the Georgia Senate runoff in 2020 , both won by Democrats, including Warnock.

“Governor Kemp wrote the script for winning big in Georgia and we are thrilled to be working with his world-class team to elect Herschel Walker to the Senate,” said Steven Law, head of the Senate Leadership Fund. “As we learned in 2020, Republican turnout is essential to winning a runoff, and we are leaving no stone unturned — preparing a ground attack to cooperate with the coming air war.”

The Republican National Committee and the National Republican Senatorial Committee are working together on an opt-out program that has 400 staffers on the ground.

“Republicans are leaving no stone unturned,” said RNC spokeswoman Savannah Viar, “while Warnock clearly only cares about 11% of the state with its tenuous 18-county GOTV plan.”

Chris Hartline, a spokesman for the Republican Senate committee, said they, too, have deployed staff and volunteers across the state and are helping to raise money for Walker through a joint fundraising committee.

And outside groups like Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America, an anti-abortion organization, plan to spend $1 million on the runoff, including a focus on turnout efforts.

For pro-democracy groups, the challenge of attracting voters to the runoff lies under the rules imposed by SB202, the Kemp-backed electoral law.

VoteRiders, a group focused on ensuring voters have valid ID to vote, plans to spend around $150,000 in the runoff elections specifically to reach the 150,000+ voters who don’t have a valid identification number with the Secretary of State have deposited.

A focus of the effort will be students at Georgia’s historically black colleges and universities. According to the group, only public university school credentials are valid proof of election, but private school credentials, including the majority of historically black Georgia colleges and universities, do not qualify.

“Georgia is a high priority for us. You know, there are strict voter ID laws, period. According to our analysis of the situation, they have a unique and disproportionate impact on young black voters. And voter ID laws have changed since 2020,” said Lauren Kunis, CEO of VoteRiders.

“Many out-of-state students who move to Georgia come onto campus and then only have a few weeks to enroll and get state ID. We know that many of these students are likely sitting out elections in Georgia because of the logistics surrounding ID,” added Kunis.

Warnock, apparently aware of the risks of putting voters back to the polls, warned of a possible runoff before the November election and ran ads joking that the Democratic senator was interrupting Thanksgiving.

“I could interrupt your Thanksgiving because if no one gets 50% of the vote, there’s a runoff. And nobody wants that to happen,” Warnock said in the ad.

Walker, a former professional soccer player and University of Georgia icon, phrased the runoff in those terms.

“We work overtime. We have a runoff. That’s what I was built for,” Walker said days after the general election.

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