COVID and 2020 Political Strategies
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the political campaign strategies in 2020 especially when it comes to fundraising and political events. Since the pandemic, campaign strategies have focused on using digital platforms and virtual events to raise funds and connect with supporters.
- Election advertising and fundraising has been gradually shifting online over the years. However, the temporary COVID-19 restrictions have resulted in candidates adopting digital tools and being creative to engage voters and donors online.
- Before the pandemic, both major parties had implemented a digital infrastructure for grassroots fundraising. The Democrats had ActBlue, which was launched in 2004 while Republics launched WinRed in 2019.
- As a result of the recession due to the pandemic, the tone of messaging on fundraising emails changed. For instance, the DNC reduced the number of fundraising emails and used a more serious tone in the messages it sent. The use of fundraising emails reduced compared to previous years since many people were out of work and facing financial hardship..
- Fundraising events have shifted to platforms such as Facebook Live and Zoom, which have proven invaluable. Smaller campaigns that do not draw a large crowd have used emails alone to engage voters online.
- In addition, spending on digital advertising has increased. For instance, Congressional candidates have spent about 25% of their budges on digital ads since people are spending more time online as they follow the temporary restrictions by staying at home.
Virtual Fundraising Events
- As a result of the pandemic, Joe Biden’s campaign focused on virtual fundraisers and shifted most of its operations online. The strategy helped them cut costs and develop innovative ways of fundraising.
- Biden has raised millions of dollars through fundraisers on Zoom. His fundraising strategy was to appear on chat with hundreds of people who contributed $1,000 or more to have the privilege of being part of the meeting.
- Biden’s campaign held several virtual fundraisers in April and May. The former vice-president entertained the donors who showed up in the Zoom using celebrities, such as Carole King, Amy Poehler, Jimmy Buffet, and Billy Porter. In mid-June, Biden held a successful Zoom fundraiser where he hosted President Barack Obama.
- On the other hand President Trump had to cancel in-person campaign fundraising, resulting in fewer donations from mid-level contributors. One of the reasons why this group of donors did not contribute as much is because unlike the higher echelon of donors, they give funds in exchange for visibility. For instance, they want to rub elbows with major donors at cocktail parties, pose for pictures with the candidate, and be acknowledged on a special list of supporters.
- Once COVID-19 started spreading in the US, Trump’s campaign and the RNC concentrated on virtual fundraising and direct mail to connect with donors. In addition, they used online platforms to training members of the Trump Neighborhood Team and activated a mass volunteer network to make calls that campaign for the President.
- In addition, fundraising money was spent differently as a result of the pandemic. For instance, instead of using live door-to-door campaigning, Democrats focused on phone conversation, digital outreach, and texts. On the other hand, the RNC and Trump’s campaign used volunteer in-person canvassers.
- Mid-summer saw Biden attending more events. However, the political events were different from Trump’s rallies. There were no large crowds and the audience consisted of reporters that were covering the event and maintained social distancing.
- Conversely, Trump has focused on face-to-face connections in his campaign rallies, which often have a large audience. According to the campaign team, the events “adhere to pandemic safety precautions by supplying free masks and hand sanitizer at all of its speeches.” In addition, everyone who goes to a Trump rally must sign a coronavirus liability release so that the campaign is not held liable if a supporter gets sick.