JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Florida is the key swing state in the election with more voters than any other state that could choose to re-elect President Donald Trump or send Joe Biden to the White House.
While so much attention has been directed to the national conventions in August, campaign strategists say voters can’t forget about the political ground game.
The political advertisements are on the airwaves, and national stories are churned out daily about the presidential election. The battle for the White House, however, happens “in the trenches” with volunteers making contact with voters.
“But what they don’t do is forget about what they did in 2016, and then have to start all over again,” said Susie Wiles, the Trump Campaign’s senior advisor. “That’s an institutional advantage in this campaign and one that will definitely pay, pay big dividends on election day.”
Wiles, a Jacksonville woman, is given much credit for Trump’s slim victory in Florida four years ago. She said the ground game pivoted quickly from the traditional model of in-person contact to appropriate pandemic-era socially-distanced and virtual efforts.
Wiles said she is not worried about polls that show the president behind Biden.
“We have been to this movie before,” she said. “Look, in a perfect world, you would always want to be ahead in the polls, but it doesn’t concern me.”
Steven Schale, a Florida political strategist who was Barack Obama’s senior advisor in 2012, said the ground game is critical for the 2020 election, but he said Democrats supporting Joe Biden have been working the battleground state of Florida hard and for almost as long a Trump supporters.
Schale believes the messages to voters will resonate and that his candidate’s message is stronger.
“I don’t believe a single one of these polls that has by number eight or nine points in Florida. It’s going to be a close race but certainly I think that Joe Biden is in a much stronger place today than Hillary Clinton was at this point,” Schale said.
Wiles says the message from the president will make him a winner again.
“It’s about the economy, it’s about the world being a safer place, it’s about the country being a safer place,” she said.