MILWAUKEE – As Wisconsin suffers the worst coronavirus outbreak of any presidential battlefield, the state’s Democratic Party is calling and texting voters instead of going door-to-door. The Biden campaign’s voting effort in the state is entirely virtual.
People like Rita Saavedra, who takes polling day off from her job as a community relations officer for a local health insurance company, step into the void so they can drive friends and family to their sites. vote.
“I reach out to everyone I know, to everyone who hasn’t voted yet,” she said. “I’ll even go home and get them out of bed.
With early voting and more time for a mail-in ballot to arrive before the Election Day deadline in Wisconsin, the typically Herculean task of reminding voters in person to go to the polls and, in many many cases, transporting them there, is left to an informal group of volunteers like Ms. Saavedra, 43. It comes as the entire infrastructure of the State Democratic Party and the Joseph R. Biden Jr. campaign is focused on calling and texting the small universe of potential supporters who haven’t. vote.
The full push towards an official online campaign comes as Wisconsin is experiencing a coronavirus spike unlike any other swing state. The average daily number of cases in the state was the third highest in the country per capita over the past week. Only one other presidential battlefield, Iowa, is in the top 12.
Absentee turnout in Wisconsin so far represents 84% of the state’s electorate in 2016. But there are still people in voice-rich urban and suburban areas who have yet to vote. .
“It‘s very strange how we’re inevitably going to have the most volunteers on election day, but this gigantic number of volunteers is going to work to get a much smaller number of votes,” said Ben Wikler, Democrats of Wisconsin president. “There’s some sort of extra return on garden signs, chalk murals and holding a sign near a grocery store and all the things that humans can do using atoms instead of atoms. ‘electrons.’
There is ample evidence that Democratic participation in Wisconsin is skyrocketing.
Five counties near Milwaukee, where enthusiasm was lagging behind Hillary Clinton, exceeded their turnout in 2016, according to Wisconsin Election Commission data released Sunday. Dane County, the most democratic county in the state and the seat of Madison, is also around 1,000 votes.
In Milwaukee County, 93% of the 2016 electorate have already voted, although the numbers are higher in the suburbs than in the much more democratic city of Milwaukee.
At the same time, the 24 counties in the state with the lowest pre-election turnout compared to 2016 are all rural enclaves that voted for President Trump four years ago.
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Still, state Republicans believe his presidential race is much closer than public polls suggest. A New York Times and Siena College poll released on Sunday found that Mr. Biden had an 11-point advantage over Mr. Trump.
“The absentee Democrats’ lead has evaporated over the past four to five days as voters in Republican areas rushed to vote early in person,” said Matt Batzel, executive director of American Majority Action, a conservative group. “I’ve never seen anything like it.”
In Milwaukee, groups have spent the last few days driving around town in the backs of flatbed trucks, blocking while holding large “VOTE” signs. In Madison, volunteers who have reportedly knocked on doors reminding people to vote instead hold signs on busy street corners. At night, the Democratic National Committee projects recalls to vote on the sides of buildings on University of Wisconsin campuses in both cities.
And instead of large rallies over the last weekend of the campaign, Democrats in Wisconsin staged a dizzying number of virtual events aimed at hard-core supporters and local media.
Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont spoke at a virtual rally as the party hosted virtual phone banks featuring locally elected officials, musicians, NBA Milwaukee Bucks players and Pete Souza, the photographer official of the White House under the Obama administration.
On Sunday, Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, appeared on Sunday with Senator Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin at invitation-only events at private homes, a nod to the deteriorating situation of state public health.
There is more appetite for canvassing and in-person events in states where the pandemic is somewhat less severe. In Pennsylvania, Democrats spent the weekend marching in Philadelphia. Barack Obama campaigned in Michigan on Saturday and was scheduled to hold rallies in Florida and Georgia on Monday. A group called Walk the Vote held parades to hand ballots to ballot boxes in 48 cities across 12 states over the weekend, but only one parade was held in Wisconsin, in the leafy, liberal suburb of Milwaukee. at Whitefish Bay.
And in Texas, Tom Perez, the chairman of the Democratic National Committee, is perplexed with Gilberto Hinojosa, the state’s Democratic president, while Mr. Hinojosa has led the door-to-door canvassing that the Biden campaign has banned.
“It’s our money, our money is used to knock on doors all over South Texas,” Hinojosa said. “This is the breach zone where you have to do everything to increase the turnout.”
Republicans in Wisconsin have taken a more aggressive approach to the in-person campaign than their Democratic counterparts. Senator Ron Johnson, Representative Bryan Steil and former Governor Scott Walker appeared before crowds in Kenosha and several other campaign stops in Southeastern Wisconsin on Saturday. Melania Trump, the first lady, spoke to a crowd in West Bend.
And conservative groups like Mr. Batzel’s have spent the final days of the campaign knocking on tens of thousands of doors trying to convince voters to support both Mr. Trump and the Republican Wisconsin candidates for the legislature. state, who face a potential bloodshed if Tuesday results reflect a poll showing Mr Biden with a sizable lead.
Mr Batzel polled in West Allis, a largely white working-class Milwaukee suburb on Friday, in a neighborhood where Mr Trump won 53% to 40% for Ms Clinton.
Mr. Batzel’s organization is betting there is a competitive advantage in knocking on doors and welcoming voters in person, even at a distance of six feet.
During 90 minutes door-to-door, Mr Batzel found 13 Trump voters, three people who said they would vote for Mr Biden and nine people who had already done so.
“I usually vote in person, but with Covid I figured I’d stay safe,” said Jodi Hansen, 36, a customer service representative who told Mr Batzel she had already voted for M Biden.
Later that afternoon, Rance Frankum, 38, a quality assurance technician, told Mr. Batzel he planned to vote for Mr. Trump at the polls on election day.
“I just know I have no complaints about the way the world is under his administration,” Mr. Frankum said.
Milwaukee voters who voted Saturday afternoon at the Tippecanoe branch of the public library expressed varying degrees of exasperation at the onslaught of calls, texts and mail they had received from various parties, campaigns and external groups.
“I get them every two hours from random people,” said Marilisa Gonzalez, 36, vice president of a commercial cleaning company. “I am not reading messages and I have unknown calls blocked.”
For people who haven’t voted, calls and texts won’t stop until the polls close on Tuesday evening.
“They’ll look for any phone number that doesn’t have a checkmark that says, ‘We know they voted,’” said State Senator Janet Bewley, Democratic leader. “They are going to keep calling and calling.”
In Madison, where only 35,587 registered voters in a city of 258,000 have not yet voted, according to the city clerkDemocratic volunteers scour their dwindling lists of residents to contact early each day and spend the rest of their time calling voters across the state.
“We have the most volunteers and the fewest people to vote,” said Alexia Sabor, Dane County Democratic chairperson.
Even Ms Sabor, who voted weeks ago, said she still receives several texts a day from other liberal groups reminding her to vote. “People are tired of all the texting and calling,” she says.
On Saturday, Ms Saavedra got a head start on her vote on Tuesday by pushing her nephew Juan A. Saavedra, 19, to vote for Mr Biden early.
“She got me out of bed and told me I had to vote,” Saavedra said. “I was going to wait until Tuesday but she wouldn’t let me.
Ms Saavedra, who voted two weeks ago, said she plans to bring at least 10 people to the polls on Tuesday.
“I wouldn’t necessarily be looking for a foreigner,” she says. “But I stopped people in the street and asked them, ‘Have you ever voted?'”