DETROIT – With less than two months before the November election, campaign staff and volunteers are ramping up efforts to reach voters but campaigning in the time of coronavirus (COVID-19) has a different feel.
As voters decide who they’ll vote for, campaigns have had to adjust how they reach those voters.
“In any election knocking doors is truly the most important thing you do. That personal connection you make with eh voter at the door,” President Donald Trump campaign staffer Parker Maddock said Monday.
Maddock is the daughter of Michigan Rep. Matt Maddock (R-Milford Township) and national advisor to the Trump campaign Meshawn Maddock.
Despite the pandemic, the Trump campaign has taken a more traditional approach, which includes knocking doors and hosting smaller in-person events. The campaign recently boasted it’s reached more than 5 million voters and a spokesperson said they have more staff and volunteers in Michigan than the 2016 campaign.
“We are fully prepared. We wear masks the door. We stay six feet apart. Even the people who are really concerned about COVID, I’ve never had anyone complain about it at the door,” Maddock said.
The campaign for former Vice President Joe Biden has been nearly entirely virtual. Last month, Sen. Kamala Harris made her vice-presidential nominee debut online talking to black voters Detroit. The campaign has also made thousands of calls to supporters and has hosted virtual rallies and events including a recent event with Detroit Lion Calvin Johnson.
“We know right now it’s the safest way to connect with people,” Biden volunteer Chad Patton said.
Patton and his wife Tessa have made more than 1,200 calls on behalf of the campaign they said in a Zoom interview Monday. They said while it’s not in-person, people have been eager to talk, starved of interaction during the pandemic.
“You can really still have a great connection with people and still listen to what they have to say,” Tessa said.
There’s no doubt Michigan is once again a coveted state in determining who will spend the next four years in the White House.
In 2016, President Trump won the Great Lakes State but just under 11,000 votes. Both candidates have visits planned for this week.
Trump is scheduled to visit an airfield near Saginaw on Thursday. Biden is scheduled to visit on Wednesday, but the location has not yet been released. Dr. Jill Biden has also scheduled a virtual event on Thursday.
The decision on how the campaigns line up with how the candidates have responded to the coronavirus pandemic. For months, Trump and his surrogates downplayed the extent and severity of COVID-19 and Trump has pushed for less testing on multiple occasions.
He also resisted the use of masks until the late spring after making several visits to key battleground states, including to Michigan.
Biden has campaigned on the response to the pandemic by the Trump Administration, adopting mask wearing early on. His campaign also released a pandemic plan in mid-March.
Both parties have also touted enthusiasm for their respective candidates and have said the push in the final weeks is more about making sure people vote rather than changing hearts of minds.
According to recent stateside polling, Biden has anywhere between a 4 to 11-point lead over Trump.
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