The Biden campaign finds itself in the retrograde situation of its candidate being its biggest liability. Yet, with COVID-19, and the ever-greedy media consumption of President Trump, that liability is turning into an asset. Having Joe not be front and center allows his campaign to focus on the small details, to drive turnout, and to package the candidate in a way that he disappears into the message. And the message is “enough of Trump.”
One example is how Biden’s campaign is using “micro-targeting” in local ads in Latino markets, down to the accents, idioms and inflections of various Spanish language nuances.
In Miami, they use a Cuban dialect; in Arizona, Mexican. In Orlando, it’s Puerto Rican. The AP reports that the slogan is a play on words: “Los cuentos no pagan las cuentas,” translated roughly as “Telling stories won’t pay the bills.”
Biden brings very little “new” with him, but his campaign is taking advantage of the economic hurricane caused by coronavirus, and the violence, upheaval, and racial tension following from too many idle young minds and bodies sick of being cooped up.
Democrats have invested heavily in micro data, including tracking Puerto Ricans who have moved to Florida since Hurricane Maria devastated the island territory. They are using this data, along with operatives on the ground, to counter the Trump campaign’s long arm and cash in Florida.
Biden’s campaign strategy seems to be working, while Trump chafes against the constraints keeping him from campaigning the way he would like to: big rallies, spectacular events, and large crowds.
In fact, Biden outraised Trump for the last two months: by $10 million in June, and by $6 million in May. While Trump’s campaign may have more cash on hand (having raised close to a billion dollars over the last two years), Biden may be spending smarter, not bigger.
Trump is spending big in Florida, Arizona, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. But more telling, Trump is also being forced to play defense in states where he should not need to.
Campaigns are frequently won and lost on the small details. Ask Hillary Clinton, whose campaign manager Robby Mook ignored pleas on the ground in Wisconsin and Michigan, while focusing on social media data and complex models.
Trump complains about his polling, but his campaign is worried, and Republicans are worried. Consuming all the media, and failing to define Biden, who is comfortably conducting a front porch campaign, is keeping Trump’s campaign staff confused and unfocused.
Chaos in the Trump camp gives Biden’s campaign an opportunity to focus on the small details, like which Spanish dialects work in key states, to effectively slam the door on Trump before the two candidates ever go face to face in a debate. In fact, Biden should probably decline to debate Trump at all.
Details matter, and it’s a bad sign for Trump that Biden’s campaign is focusing on them so well.