This Is What's Making Democrats Nervous About Joe Biden's Michigan Operation

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Posted: Sep 18, 2020 6:00 AM
This Is What's Making Democrats Nervous About Joe Biden's Michigan Operation

Source: AP Photo/Patrick Semansky

It could be that it’s a non-existent operation. 

Time magazine said they could really find a field office. There is no army of volunteers. The only way you’d know that Joe Biden was supposedly ahead of Donald Trump here is due to the flawed polling peddled by liberal news outlets. There is no ground operation. That’s an open secret. It’s an open admission by Biden staffers. The lengthy piece does list ‘this, that, and the other’ from other Democrats concerning how the Biden camp is reaching voters in the COVID era. All is well, they say. But there are scores of other local liberal activists and Democratic Party chairs in the state who think that Biden can and should do more. They note the race is closer than the polls suggest—sound familiar—and when Michael Moore is worried—you know there’s something to be wary of as a Democrat. Moore was one of the few liberals who felt that Trump could win, as he is a Michigan native. And he recently fired off a warning flare noting that the polls in Michigan are tightening up and that enthusiasm for Trump is through the roof. For Biden, not so much (via Time):

Four years ago, Don Sabbe made what he calls a “devastating” mistake. Determined only to cast a vote for a candidate he believed in, he left the top of his ballot blank in the 2016 presidential election. This year, the 83-year old former Chrysler employee says he’ll definitely vote for Joe Biden, but he’s getting concerned about Biden’s campaign here in Michigan.

“I can’t even find a sign,” Sabbe says outside a Kroger’s in Sterling Heights, where surrounding cars fly massive Donald Trump flags that say “No More Bullsh-t” and fellow shoppers wear Trump T-shirts for their weekend grocery runs. “I’m looking for one of those storefronts. I’m looking for a campaign office for Biden. And I’m not finding one.”

The reason Sabbe can’t find a dedicated Biden campaign field office is because there aren’t any around here. Not in Macomb County, the swing region where Sabbe lives. It’s not even clear Biden has opened any new dedicated field offices in the state; because of the pandemic, they’ve moved their field organizing effort online. The Biden campaign in Michigan refused to confirm the location of any physical field offices despite repeated requests; they say they have “supply centers” for handing out signs, but would not confirm those locations. The campaign also declined to say how many of their Michigan staff were physically located here. Biden’s field operation in this all-important state is being run through the Michigan Democratic Party’s One Campaign, which is also not doing physical canvassing or events at the moment. When I ask Biden campaign staffers and Democratic Party officials how many people they have on the ground in Michigan, one reply stuck out: “What do you mean by ‘on the ground?'”

[…]

In short, in one of the most important swing states in the country, Biden’s campaign is all but invisible to the naked eye. His lack of a physical footprint is all the more striking because Trump flags festoon everything from pickup trucks to massive airplane parts being transported down the highway. Roughly 30 Trump supporters gathered to protest outside the Biden event last week, waving their flags and cheering as passing cars honked. (Roughly eight Biden supporters showed up.) After driving around some of the state’s swing districts for the past week, talking to than dozens of voters, the only reason you’d think Biden was up in Michigan is because the polls have consistently said so.

[…]

…the juxtaposition of Trump’s loud and proud campaign and Biden’s invisible digital operation makes some Democrats increasingly anxious. “We don’t see the presence,” says Lori Goldman, the founder of Fems for Dems, a grassroots political action group with nearly 9,000 members in Michigan. “They should have people who are like Jehova’s Witnesses, zealots, preaching the gospel of Joe Biden out there in the community. There needs to be someone out there Biden-izing. People don’t even know where to volunteer for Biden.” Goldman says she gets roughly 15 calls a week from women asking where they can canvass, and she doesn’t know what to tell them. “Meanwhile,” she says, “there are Trump signs that look like they should be on an expressway, they’re so big.”

[…]

after conversations with more than a dozen Democratic Members of Congress, state representatives, local party chairs and party operatives, a slightly more anxious picture emerged. Top Democrats believe the race is closer than the polls suggest, and some are privately urging the Biden campaign and state Democrats to reconsider physical canvassing. “I think Biden could absolutely do more,” says Michael Heitman, chair of the Democratic Party in Isabella County, a small county in central Michigan which voted for Barack Obama twice and then for Trump in 2016. “I’d really appreciate if the Biden campaign had someone specifically for his campaign here.”

In the meantime, the Trump team has reached over 100 million voters. They’re doing one million door knocks a week. The best part is that Democrats in Michigan who are confident of the Biden strategy say that what they’re doing is bigger than what Clinton did in 2016. That’s not saying much. 

The rioting, the economic recovery, securing a historic peace deal between Israel and Arab nations are all happening in the COVID era with Trump, who faces a Democratic Party and media establishment that outright hates him. Still, he’s clinching key wins. The wind is to his back. Across the country, there are troubling signs for Biden. In Miami-Dade County, Florida, he’s not doing too hot, certainly not well enough that shows he has the key state in the bag. In Pennsylvania, GOP surges in key counties there show that soft Trump voters are coming back into the fold. Keep an eye on Bucks and Lackawanna counties on Election Night. If Biden doesn’t do well in either, especially the latter—he’s probably not going to win the state. Doesn’t sound like a guy who’s up seven-to-ten points national, huh? But that’s what these polling experts say.