In a black face mask and cap, activist Garrett Bess walked up driveway after driveway of million-dollar homes in suburban Atlanta on a recent afternoon, placing a flyer in each door, ringing the bell and stepping away to make a socially distanced pitch to vote for the conservative candidates in Georgia's pivotal U.S. Senate runoff elections.
Bess' group, Heritage Action for America, plans to knock on half a million doors before the state's two Jan. 5 contests that will determine whether Democrats or Republicans control the Senate.
This election season, the coronavirus pandemic has upended traditional get-out-the-vote efforts where campaign workers go door to door to encourage people to cast ballots.
With people staying at home and limiting contact with outsiders, an extended conversation with a campaign worker who shows up uninvited may actually encourage people to vote for someone else.
But it's a sign of how important the two Senate elections are that both parties and independent advocacy groups are going all in on their in-person get-out-the-vote efforts.
The National Republican Senatorial Committee expects to have 1,000 staffers on the ground in Georgia. For comparison, the Republican National Committee had a total of 3,000 paid field staff across the whole country during the presidential race.
Democrats carry their own baggage into the runoff. In many parts of the country, they limited face-to-face campaigning ahead of the Nov. 3 election because of the pandemic, arguing that was the responsible thing to do. But that decision was second-guessed in places such as Florida.
The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee plans to spend millions on voter registration and turnout efforts.