During an unseasonably warm Sunday afternoon, nearly forty-eight hours before Election Day, Stacey Abrams took photos with and spoke to young voters who were enjoying brunch and listening to rap and R&B music at Esco Restaurant and Tapas in Atlanta’s Castleberry Hill neighborhood. While Abrams talked about her plans to make housing affordable, drive down the costs of healthcare and her plans for growing Black and minority owned businesses, the owner of Esco, rapper and restaurateur 2 Chainz, walked in with his family to grab a bite to eat.
The Abrams campaign has adopted a street-team promotions strategy as was the norm when Black-owned record companies, radio stations and event promoters would directly engage with their audience at major events. The Abrams campaign has targeted people who get their news from social media and YouTube videos. These individuals tend to stream more movies and shows rather than watching the local news. Above all else, the Abrams campaign is targeting a demographic that is often ignored or forgotten about by most candidates.
“I wanted to bring all of that to this campaign, something campaigns have never seen before,” said Mo Ivory, the head of cultural strategy with the Abrams campaign. “The way that we go into the streets, and we talk to people, and we rally and we get on street corners, and we’re loud. And we got stickers, and we’re doing all the kinds of stuff that used to be the way that it went down. “
As somebody who used to work in nightlife, radio and promotions, Ivory is passionate about bringing that culture into politics in order to reach a demographic that is hardly ever represented in most polling data.
The most recent poll conducted by Marist has Abrams eight points behind incumbent Governor Brian Kemp. However, they contacted 1,168 registered voters. More often than not, most polling data is conducted by companies with no ties to the state of Georgia. Also, the Abrams campaign says the polling is largely reflective of a Republican or conservative slant.
Additionally, the anomaly of polling is that it’s done while the majority of Blacks and ethnic minorities are at work, do not possess land-based telephone lines or simply do not have the time to answer the survey. When he was running for mayor last year, Andre Dickens famously said the polls never reflect the mood in the streets. Abrams shares those sentiments.
“It’s what we do, we meet people where they are,” Abrams said. “An important piece to understand about polling is it’s a snapshot. The question is, ‘who are you looking at?’ My campaigns, whether it was 2018, or 2022, we go to the people who are too often left in the shadows left in the margins are simply overlooked.”
With appearances on the 85 South Show and ‘The Daily Show with Trevor Noah’, conversations with rappers Lil Baby and 21 Savage, coupled with Instagram live conversations with R&B singers Ciara and Monica and hosting town halls which allowed Black men to voice their issues, Stacey Abrams is a product of the culture and is betting on it to sweep her into the Governor’s Mansion after the Nov. 8 elections.
“Can we do that? Can we bring that kind of energy? Can we bring that kind of culture? And Stacey said, ‘Absolutely.’ And so we did,” Ivory said. “And it worked in our street teams everywhere, outside of clubs, and at food trucks. And we have a pop up shop where we give away free merch the whole entire way that you just hit the streets in a big way. And that’s the way we did it. And so, campaigns have never seen a cultural attack like this. But this is what should happen. This is how Black people need to be reached.”