With less than 50 days to go for the US presidential election, President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden have ramped up their efforts to reach out to their supporters across the country. However, against the backdrop of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, both nominees have opted for strikingly different campaigning strategies.
While Biden’s campaign has adopted a cautious approach and has endorsed Covid-19 mitigation strategies like social distancing and wearing a mask; Trump has pointedly opposed several of these restrictions, claiming they are politically motivated.
Here are four big differences between Trump and Biden’s presidential campaigns.
In-person versus virtual rallies
US President Donald Trump has hosted a number of in-person rallies in states across the country, despite a steadily rising number of Covid-19 cases. The events have been attended by large groups of supporters, many of whom congregated in close quarters without wearing face masks.
In one such incident earlier this week, Trump addressed thousands of supporters in the first entirely indoor rally held in nearly three months, CNN reported. The event was conducted in an airy warehouse in Henderson, Nevada, blatantly violating the state’s restriction on gatherings of more than 50 people.
His last indoor rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma sparked controversy when the state witnessed a considerable surge in cases merely two weeks after the event. Multiple campaign staffers and Secret Service Agents were amongst those who tested positive for the virus.
Meanwhile, the Democratic Party’s nominee Joe Biden has kept in-person interaction to a minimum. His campaign organised a number of virtual rallies, and socially distanced events with a small number of supporters.
Notably, Biden met with four union members and military veterans in a supporters’ backyard in Lancaster, Pennsylvania this month. He has also hosted a few smaller in-person speeches, press conferences and round tables, where mask-wearing and social distancing were made mandatory.
However, with the election inching closer, both candidates have ramped up their travel, particularly to key swing states. On Friday, Biden and Trump arrived in Minnesota, just as early voting began in the state.
Biden pushes for more TV ads, while Trump focuses on digital space
The Biden campaign has invested heavily in television advertising in recent months, particularly in six key swing states — Florida, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Michigan, Wisconsin and Arizona.
According to a report by the Washington Post, the Biden campaign spent around $90 million on television ads between August 10 and September 7, four times more than the $18 million spent by the Trump campaign.
But recently Trump has been trying to bridge the gap in ad spending by heavily investing in digital advertisements on platforms like Facebook and Google. Quoting data from Bully Pulpit Interactive, the Hill reported that the Trump campaign has spent about $170 million on digital advertising on both platforms since 2019, while Biden has only spent $90 million.
In recent weeks, the Biden campaign has significantly increased its spending on Facebook and Google, going as far as matching the US President’s spending in key battleground states, the Hill reported.
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The tried and tested on-ground approach — where armies of volunteers go from door-to-door, hard-selling their presidential candidate by extolling their many virtues — has taken a back seat for the Democratic Party, which has focused instead on organising virtual one-on-one conversations with voters.
Whereas, President Trump’s campaign has claimed to have knocked on at least a million doors a week, NPR reported. Field staffers and volunteers wearing face masks were deployed for home visits as early as in June.
Recently, a few Democratic candidates in battleground states, such as Maine and Montana, have chosen to resume door knocking.
Fundraising: Trump opts for in-person events, Biden turns to Zoom calls
While Trump has been hosting a number of in-person fundraising events since June, the Biden campaign has reached out to supporters virtually on Zoom calls.
Since the pandemic began, democratic lawmakers across the country have been hosting virtual events, featuring celebrities and prominent politicians. The Biden campaigning has still been able to rake in more funds than Trump.
In August, Biden and the Democrats shattered all records by raising a total of $364.5 million, CNN reported. His campaign claimed that a large chunk of the total amount came from small-dollar donors.
Meanwhile, in the same month, the Trump campaign raised about $210 million. According to a recent report by the New York Times, the US President’s re-election campaign lost its cash advantage after already spending more than $800 million of the $1.1 billion raised since the beginning of 2019.
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