I knocked 2500 doors in Atlanta this fall.


“Where's Brandyn at, what's Brandyn doing?”

Lots of people have asked, and I've had my hands a little too full the last couple of months to actually respond to everyone.

I left my job, and moved to a different side of town, so I could rebuild my financial life a little bit. and focus on the things I wanted to do. Of course – nowhere is “inexpensive” in rapidly gentrifying Atlanta.

But I don't have shit to complain about. 2022 has been a wild and weird ride for everybody – and I figure everybody in the world is dealing with something where they'd be jealous of my life and position. Doing a little manual labor doesn't exactly squash that out.

I spent some of my time putting together my case studies and work as a freelancer – and reaching out to people I’ve worked with in the past.

Well, Brandyn, why not pop out a couple of tweets during the morning? Well:

I was ALSO working on my business during the morning and securing a couple of clients. I'd made an appointment funnel – so I would wake up, wash my ass, take business calls for an hour and a half, and hop on MARTA to a work site.

From there, it was:

  • knocking X number of doors,
  • giving a spiel to Y people that answered it,
  • and getting Z number of responses.

For obvious reasons, the mechanics of sprinting through neighborhoods, shaking off the colorful locals and getting to the next house was way more important to me than election analysis.

It was a nice experience in terms of helping me stay in shape, polish my face to face sales skills, and I know way more about managing a canvass, which will be really important in the future.

I performed really well, everybody loved me.

On the negative side I mean, my physical body was always in motion. And also, you're knocking doors, in Atlanta, after dark.

I would get at least one death threat a night (I mean, yeah), and my group (mostly of black folks from inside the perimeter, going to swing districts of “valuable” voters in gated communities) was dealing with constant police action – to the point that we were calling departments ahead of our arriving.

Anyway, I'm getting to a point where I couldn't really do “both”, being together in the morning, coming in at night – just way too much.

Anyway, by the time I got home, I needed to put my mind and body into the next day’s action, and didn't really have bandwidth for anything else. I don't know how much detail I need to go into about “being working class”.

Most of you reading this are in a different color of the same boat, so let's move on.

I know a lot of you are following me because you're interested in the Georgia elections, so here's the goods on that situation:

I knocked over 2,500 doors in Greater Atlanta. Asking people about the elections this fall.

I came away with:

Nightly death threats

Run-ins with the Atlanta Police Department

And eight observations you’ll be able to use in your own communities:


Doors Don’t Mean That Much

It matters to the condition of my shoes (which were fuuuucked uuuup after all of that walking), but ultimately, these are just metrics used to appease powerful political donors.

They need a number that sounds good at parties (not to mention future fundraising), BUT – are there people behind those doors? Are there full families behind those doors? Are all of them going out there?

It's a number that's really exciting for the donors that fund these kinds of efforts, but like most jobs, whenever you're chasing a number, systems tend to fail around it.

Especially in an election where there’s one group that’s struggling with engagement.

It’s going to take multiple contacts to get folks from barely knowing what’s going on, to actually engaging with the news, to actually going out there and casting a ballot.

I guess we’ll see whether the collected flood of mailers and postcards and flyers and knocks make that overall effect on people.

Republican Voters Know What’s Up.

I wasn’t just hanging around one neighborhood in Atlanta – I was going across the state from dingy apartments on Howell Mill to knocking on mansions in Alpharetta, and those guys are happy as hell with how things are going.

One, the economy has been great for those guys.

I talked to a guy who said he “was causing the housing crisis” with a big smile on his face. And as I talked to him, he said he was “glad he was born rich so he didn’t have to worry about this stuff”.

Got one on one time with lots of Kemp voters, they gave him a lot of credit for being independent and standing up to Trump.

Now to be honest, if the house had bumper stickers that sounded like QAnon – you know, shit like Bill Gates and the vaccine and shit like that, I usually skipped those houses.

I'm not trying to get locked in anybody's basement if I can help it.

But I was knocking MAGA/thin blue line doors. Let's be honest, most of those folks are boomers, and their homicidal rage is towards some imaginary, sepia toned template of a person.

And they've got too much cash to do anything newsworthy.

And… I'm getting paid no matter what them people got to say to me.

Anyway, I know we think of people who listen to right-wing media as raving idiots, but most of them just calmly repeat those things as they’ve become their world view.

This was a big takeaway for me personally. Once you leave the really loud people at the top of the right wing information sphere, it filters down not just to people who repeat myths uncritically, but people who just adapt pieces and slices into “things people are saying” in their worldview.

Conspiratorial stuff about election theft were kind of treated with a wink and a glare. They know who they’re in a coalition with – but they also know their material interests.

What are you gonna do?

Everyone Hates Herschel Walker.

The same “Herschel Walker” got so many incredulous looks from people. The phrase “he’s an embarrassment” was used just over and over again.

I found maybe one Black person who hasn't disgusted by Walker. I ran into black Republicans that were happy with Kemp and still ashamed of that guy.

Even Republican voters were embarrassed by him. Lots of people just described him as “that other guy” or got a sudden interest in their shoelaces when he came up.

On the other side, he was just getting slammed everywhere. Embarrassment was definitely the lead descriptor, but I haven't heard the word coon employed so much outside of Twitter spaces.

Idiot, moron, clown, take your pick.

That doesn’t mean they won’t vote for him when they’re in the privacy of a booth? It just means I talked to literally a thousand people and maybe one of them could talk confidently about Walker being good. LOL.

If he has a base, it’s way out in the country, like over 90 minutes from the Atlanta area.

Stacey Abrams. “Smart.”

On the flipside, There’s not a lot of spicy quotes when you ask people why they’re voting for Abrams.

It reminds me a lot of the things people said about Elizabeth Warren in 2020.

She's smart, she seems nice, she’ll help all the people.

I'd also ask what they wanted from her in the case of the election, and few people were specific.

There were people who mentioned some of the political issues that Kemp was dragging his feet on like healthcare funding and housing assistance, but definitely not as many as you would hope.

Civic obligation and “we need change” were said way more often. Maybe that's a good thing – Georgia still has a conservative state legislature and anything “bipartisan” that comes out of there is probably going to screw normal people over.

The people who were most effusive were people who knew her personally or were socially adjacent to her.

People who went to Spelman, or worked with her campaign manager and people like that.

Could just be part of challenging an incumbent?

“Everything” Beats Every Issue…

It was pretty tough to get people to talk about specific issues that impacted them – if you ask people what’s impacting them in society, the most common answer is to just say “everything’s messed up”.

You’ve really got to dig say, in terms of policy, the specific issues I heard most often – outside of racial justice, which we could fill out as “Other” ;) – was women’s rights and gun control.

Kemp did a whole lot with circulating guns in the state and open carry laws. I didn't run into a lot of people who talked about defense of the second amendment, but I did find a lot of people who were democrats and pinned rising crime rates on him.

If Abrams does end up winning the election, it’ll be because a lot of women were motivated to interrupt their routine and cast a ballot.

Neighborhoods have definitely changed – and it was interesting going to places that were all white when I was a kid and are 50/50 now, or neighborhoods that were black 10 years ago and have been priced out and either displaced or empty now.

“Nothing” Is Beating Everything

It was rarer to find people whose politics had grown to a point of frustration with both political parties.

I remember talking to a Green Party candidate who said, well, X percent of people don’t vote, just get those people and you win.

And really, I wish people luck in doing that. People aren’t disengaged because they haven’t heard of societal problems!

If your vision for the future requires “an engaged population”, then things are probably going to get worse before they get better.

People aren’t apolitical like they’ve never heard of politics – they’re apolitical like, politics exist exclusively to fuck them over, and they want to be the group that does the fucking instead of getting it.

I often asked people who were “not interested in politics” whether they wanted a better candidate or just didn't care, and just don't care was running away with it.

The problem is not so much getting people to understand the problems of the political system, which I think everybody understands at some level, but getting them to realize their individual agency and the potential for action on a local and community level.

That (like anything else) requires regular touches, engagement, communication.

Lasting change requires more than just the funding at X period of time.

It requires a cultural infrastructure that stretches into your lifestyle.

You can’t count on the political class to do that. There’s way (way) (way) too much money flying overhead and – plenty of this money is flying in from outside to “a swing state”… but it’s just electoral politics. It ramps up before, it dies down after… I mean, you get it.

There’s a second class of people who just get that “things are bad” – they’re probably not going to subscribe themselves to an ideology but they’re willing to support individual courses of action that sound good and tangibly move the ball forward.

I see a lot of room for growth in those people, but it’s going to take the kind of in depth and repeated engagement that most political machines aren’t interested in right now.

Those people are going to work, coming home.

People understand instinctually that everything is messed up, that everything is connected, and that systems of oppression are designed to plug into each other.

The bigger problem is not so much convincing them about corruption in the political system, but convincing them to like, care about it.

I'm not predicting either election because Atlanta and the surrounding areas (even as far as an hour out) aren't the entire state.

On top of that, I think police and real estate developers have enough power in the state – and it doesn't look like anybody is going to the root of the problems around here.

Geography Is Important

Holy shit, did I go all this way to say politics is local? 🤒

Yeah, where you are is all important. I mean, it’s a sales company that didn’t do a lot in the way of background checks. It’s obviously important to keep people motivated and doing things they can control.

  • People excited for apartments because the people there were accessible and interested.
  • Mansions and wealthy neighborhoods sucked and were impossible to get responses from or to.
  • If you’re looking to just organize you friends, find your local apartment complex, circulate a petition, and follow-up with those guys.

And I'm not bullshitting here – places in town that had left leaning officials we're much more engaged, excited and interested in issues.

You can probably guess the other neighborhoods in Atlanta like East Point and Cascade where people are interested in issues and could name them specifically.

I hope that doesn't sound like a banality – I just want to emphasize that if you know a handful of people who aren't scared to communicate with strangers, who can write down a note, pass it to a hundred people and get a really positive response.

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