The Post’s Bump returned to the streets of Scranton, Pennsylvania, earlier this year to find a full role reversal – a group of disciplined Biden campaign workers and volunteers who put together the pieces of a highly competitive GOTV effort for the final hours of the campaign, while Trump supporters drove around town, cranking engines and firing their horns in a frothy cacophony of valor – all hat, no cattle, as they say.
Biden’s efforts were sturdy, a series of tents along the road with volunteers going through a three-part pick-up process. Step one: temperature control and health assessment, an allusion to the reality of the moment – and reinforcement of the candidate’s rhetoric about the importance of observing science on the fly Coronavirus Pandemic. (When I walked into the office, my temperature was taken.) Second, registration on laptops. Third, quick training and supplies, including Biden branded masks and hand sanitizer. […]
Across the street, the Trump campaign efforts that leaked out of the county’s Republican Party offices were a little less subtle. One man without a mask (unlike all of Biden’s staff) refused to answer even basic questions about the campaign’s efforts. When I got to the office later to see if I could get a contact for someone who could answer questions, I was turned away again, and the same man signaled a bulky security guard, presumably to make sure I could find the exit.
However, I saw a few people walking into Trump headquarters, all of them showing up with lawn signs and other material.
As Bump explained, the Trump campaign is focused on visibility – noisy pickup brigades, lawn signs and lots of attitude. It might feel good, but it doesn’t turn out to be the voter leaning forward but feeling a little too complacent to be in the polls for an hour or more.
However, many of the Biden volunteers were there to do the inglorious work of street running, door knocking, and looking for every recently identified Biden supporter who hadn’t made it to the elections.
“I think the biggest thing we have to do is get people to vote,” said Sean Horgan, a 46-year-old former Marine who came from Massachusetts to volunteer in what is perhaps the most critical state swing in the state Country to report. “Elected officials generally represent the people – but the people who vote.”
In contrast, Trump supporters who opted for campaign literature after leaving GOP headquarters spoke mainly about election fraud and distrust of the polls.
“I think Trump will win if there is no electoral fraud. God I hope not. I think everyone is talking about that. ” Wendy Ross, 48, told Bump. But instead of posing as a voter, Ross planned to hand out literature in the elections in case someone who was already in line to vote had a last-minute revelation. “The only thing we worry about is election fraud,” she added, without giving any details. “I just think the Democrats will try to pull something just to get in,” she said.
Of course, there’s no evidence of election fraud, just a bunch of GOP-fueled hype from a Trump-born conspiracy theory. But there isn’t much evidence of the Trump campaign’s GOTV efforts either. Much like Bump’s experience in the Scranton area when reporter Olivia Nuzzi searched for the Trump floor game – the actual building blocks of a GOTV operation – in August, she couldn’t find it either.
This was Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. I was looking for the floor game. Have you heard about it? The campaign says it is the greatest floor game that has ever existed. While you don’t see enthusiasm for the president reflected in the rigged polls, you do see it when you speak to his real supporters who live in Real America. In fact, they talk about surveys of enthusiasm, not just as if they are more reliable than real surveys, but as if they were the surveys – as if the traditional way just doesn’t exist or doesn’t matter. I drove across the country last month and only saw two signs for Joe Biden the whole way. Does this make sense? The Trump campaign hopes it will. In Pennsylvania, they are on the phone and knocking on doors – a million a week – driven by more than 1.4 million volunteers. Pennsylvania is uniquely important. The country voters won the state for Trump in the last election by less than a percentage point. This time, Trump is a lot behind Biden. To fill this void, the campaign is hosting dozens of events – more than any other state. But good luck finding it.
If these reports reflect a broader truth, the Trump base game seems more mythology than reality. But the proof will be in the pudding, and we’ll finally be looking at this pudding in the days to come. With luck and skill, the efforts of the Biden Campaign and its dedicated volunteers will bring a critical victory.
Help Get The Final Vote: Join the Biden-Harris Campaign to make calls to swing the state’s voters from the comfort of your home, no matter where you live. All you need is a PC, a quiet place in your home to make calls, and a desire to kick Donald Trump out of the office.