This is the time of campaign season when you would see an army of Democrats and Republicans begin to flood into neighborhoods to knock on doors to get voters ready to go to the polls.
But during the pandemic, things are different. After a long pause, Republicans have found their way back to door-knocking while also taking safety precautions.
Democrats are relying on virtual tools to reach their voters and the question for them is this: Can they win Wisconsin without hitting the doors?
A campaign memo released Friday by Danielle Melfi, the Wisconsin state director of Joe Biden’s presidential campaign, lays out the case for the new approach as the party deals with the novel coronavirus.
It also may be an attempt to allay concerns among skittish Democrats who recall that in 2016, Hillary Clinton never showed up here in the general election and President Donald Trump won Wisconsin.
Melfi writes that the campaign is “in a strong position” to win Wisconsin in the fall. Recent polls show Biden leading Trump among likely voters.
And both campaigns are making a big play for the state. Trump and Vice President Mike Pence have made frequent visits, including the president’s Thursday night rally in Mosinee. Biden and his running mate, U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris of California, have each made one visit to the Badger State.
As the campaign heats up, Democrats are leaning into health care and the economy.
The memo says that Biden “has a plan to address issues important to voters, like stopping the spread of COVID, ensuring all Wisconsinites have access to quality and affordable health care, and improving our economy for everyone, not just the wealthy and well connected.”
And the memo claims that Trump “is facing strong headwinds” in the state, noting high unemployment, and troubles in farming. In 2019, the state had the highest number of farm bankruptcies.
Democrats are also focused on the mechanics of reaching millions of voters.
Melfi writes, “our campaign is running a voter contact program focused on quality conversations with voters across Wisconsin to meet voters where they are and earn every vote. The campaign is firing on all cylinders — last weekend alone, organizers and volunteers reached out to nearly 1 million Wisconsin voters over two days.”
The campaign has also been on the air in Wisconsin since June. NPR reported this week that in Wisconsin, Biden and his allies have outspent Trump and his allies on TV ad bookings, $44.4 million to $31.8 million.
Melfi adds that the campaign isn’t taking anything for granted and expects a very tight race.
“As the election gets closer, our organizing team continues to ramp up outreach to voters to discuss what’s at stake in this election,” she writes. “Since May, the organizing team has held more than 2,500 virtual events, the vast majority of which are localized to individual communities with a focus on local community members speaking with their neighbors.”
Because of the pandemic, the campaign has spent a lot of time educating voters about how to cast their ballots. They’re also stepping up efforts to reach voters as absentee ballots begin to hit mailboxes across the state.
And they’re keeping up a steady calendar of virtual events, with listening sessions and roundtables featuring the likes of U.S. Sens. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin and Sherrod Brown of Ohio, as well as events focused on small businesses.