Campaigning amid coronavirus: Candidates turn to creative ways to reach voters
DES MOINES, Iowa – More than 70 cars and 130 people gathered in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, last month for a drive-in rally to support Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and his running mate, Kamala Harris.
Biden and Harris were not in town, but their spouses, Jill Biden and Doug Emhoff, joined supporters for a socially distant event where decorated cars replaced T-shirts with campaign slogans and car horns replaced the claps heard at in-person rallies.
The drive-in rally is just one example of how campaigning has changed amid a global health crisis as candidates try to limit crowd sizes.
In the key battleground state of Iowa, the coronavirus pandemic has canceled some of Iowa’s largest political campaigning events such as parades and the state fair to slow down the virus’s spread.
So, campaigns on both sides are taking unique approaches to increase voter turnout in this election cycle.
“We’re doing these getting creative activities to stress the importance of voting,” said Michael Smith, chair of the Iowa Democratic Party.
Smith told Fox News that volunteers for the Iowa Democratic Party are using technology to their advantage.
“We’re continuing to organize in 99 counties virtually,” Smith adds. “In in the interest of public safety, we don’t have field staff and volunteers knocking on doors, like they usually do in these situations. We’re doing more Zoom conferences and telephone interactions.”
Meanwhile, President Trump’s supporters are picking up their presence by holding car parades.
“We know how important those face-to-face interactions are even if they are you know a little bit more socially distance than normal,” Aaron Britt, spokesperson for the Iowa GOP, told Fox News.
Britt added that the organizers are door-knocking while abiding by virus-mitigation protocols, including social distancing and face masks, and volunteers are working the phones more.
“We actually just hit out our 2 million voter contact [as of September], which I can say after discussions that I’ve had, that’s completely unprecedented,” he added.
According to Real Clear Politics, an average of recent polls shows the candidates tied among likely voters in Iowa.
With a tight race shaping up in the Hawkeye State, voters said showing up to these events is important to increase enthusiasm.
“We’re fired up and excited to be here,” said Iowan voter Laurie Sealy. “We can make a difference.”
“This is probably one of the most important elections of our lives, and it is worth it to show up and show support, get all the education you can get,” said Iowan voter Luana Nelson-Brown.
For these campaigns, it’s about making a personal connection with voters.
“[Events] gets people energized in various ways,” said University of Iowa Politics Professor Tim Hagle. “It gets the base energized, but it also lets people that maybe aren’t paying as close attention, like those middle voters, it lets them know who people are excited about and why they’re excited about a particular candidate.”
Early voting began for Iowans on Oct. 5.
The Secretary of State’s Office says it’s anticipating a record number of absentee ballots as more people choose to stay home during the pandemic.