Six ways to make sure Joe Biden wins and Donald Trump loses in the November election
Many states are planning on drastically different elections this year and mail-in ballots could be a big game changer. USA TODAY
There has never been a period as chaotic as this one. The pressure on our political system is enormous, but we can end this Trumpian nightmare.
Even before the coronavirus and the killing of George Floyd, we knew this was going to be a volatile election year because of President Donald Trump. Still, six months ago, nobody would have predicted today’s frenzied environment. A day’s events can dramatically change things. And who knows how many times the deck will be reshuffled before Nov. 3.
That makes it more important than ever that Trump opponents keep their eye on the ball. Here are six thingsprogressiveslike me should be doing, regardless of anything else that may happen between now and Election Day, to defeat Trump and put Joe Biden in the White House:
1) Give Biden your wholehearted, full-throated support. There are only two candidates who can win the presidency — Biden and Trump. I saw a recent Facebook post that said something like, “Never Biden = Vote for Trump; Voting Green = Vote for Trump; Writing in Bernie = Vote for Trump; Staying 真人百家家乐官网网站home = Vote for Trump.” There is no time or room for protest votes.
And just voting for Biden isn’t enough. Every one of us has a moral responsibility to defeat Trump. To do this, we must support Biden enthusiastically. Tell everyone you know; sing it from the rooftops. The contrast with Trump couldn’t be starker.
The time for bellyaching is over. The Democratic Party had a robust primary with 28 candidates vying for the nomination. Biden has clinched it, and it's every progressive’s job to do everything possible to help him win. Period.
2) Remember that it takes 270 electoral votes to win. If Biden carries all the states Hillary Clinton won in 2016 and flips Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, the election is over. Biden wins. The latest polling shows Biden ahead in all three, but by tight margins. Those three states are key, as is Minnesota. Trump only lost it by fewer than 45,000 votes, and after the Floyd killing in Minneapolis, the political waters there are churning. Recent polling shows Biden with a lead, but it too will be tight. These are the Big Four states that Democrats must focus on winning.
After that (and not at the expense of the Big Four), polling will dictate whether to try to win some combination of Arizona, Florida, North Carolina, Georgia, the 2nd Congressional District in Nebraska and possibly Texas, as well as bolster New Hampshire. But don’t be distracted or intoxicated by other states. That was part of the problem in 2016. Secure the Big Four before doing anything else.
3) Mobilize massive numbers of voters of color. Biden is 10 points behind Clinton’s 2016 performance with African American voters. If he can match her level, which is very doable, he will win by a significant margin.
With little investment from the Clinton campaign and its allies in the heavily Black city of Detroit, Clinton underperformed President Barack Obama’s 2012 showing by 46,872 votes — far more than her Michigan loss margin of 10,704 votes.
Similarly, in Milwaukee, Clinton underperformed Obama by losing Wisconsin by just 22,748 votes. A disproportionate share of Democratic and progressive investment in the next few months needs to be in groups that are mobilizing voters of color.
The African American community has been hit especially hard by COVID-19. According to a recent analysis, coronavirus-related deaths for Black Americans are nearly twice as high as would be expected based on their share of the population. Given that reality, as well as the civil unrest, the need for healing and the importance of the African American vote, a Black running mate is vital. Progressives should lobby Biden to pick one of the outstanding women being mentioned for the job.
Biden must also ramp up his outreach to Latinos. During the primary campaign, his team struggled to win their support while Sen. Bernie Sanders reaped the benefits of significant investments in talking and listening to these voters. Biden, who is trailing Clinton by over 10 points among Latinos in a CNN comparison of preelection polls, should follow his lead.
Deploy the Obamas and other VIPs
Latinos constitute more than 20% of the citizen-voting age population in Arizona and Texas and about 20% in Florida. Biden has room to increase his appeal with this group, especially in Arizona and Florida, where significant majorities of Latinos disapprove of how Trump has handled the coronavirus and favor Biden on a range of character questions.
The Biden campaign and its allies must create an ongoing dialogue with voters of color. They should also immediately begin deploying the full network of surrogates popular with these communities, from the Obamas on down.
4) Guard against Republican voter suppression efforts. The latest Washington Post poll shows Trump trailing Biden by 13 points among everyoneand trailing by 10 points among registered voters — but trailing by just 5 points among likely voters. Trump and his party know that the key to Biden’s success is a massive get-out-the-vote effort so they will do everything they can to suppress the vote.
Republicans say they’re recruiting up to 50,000 “volunteers" in 15 key states to “monitor polling places” and challenge ballots and voters they deem “suspicious.” This campaign of voter intimidation and harassment is part of a $20 million effort. It includes millions allocated to challenging lawsuits brought by Democrats and voting-rights advocates seeking to loosen state restrictions on balloting.
For this election, progressives must be more vigilant than ever. Organizations like Fair Fight (headed by Stacey Abrams) and Priorities USA Action, as well as state-based groups like Promote the Vote in Michigan, are putting in place legal and ground strategies to combat voter suppression. Progressives must be sure the organizations doing this work in the key states are fully funded. There is no excuse to be caught unprepared.
5) Take down the barriers to voting. State voting laws are changing rapidly due to the pandemic. Since the onset of COVID, 46 states and Washington, D.C., now allow some form of vote by mail for all voters. More states are extending early voting, consolidating polling places and making other changes that many voters are unaware of or may be confused by in the absence of a robust voter-education campaign.
We know that when we remove the mystery from the process and make voting simple, more people are likely to participate. Growing vote-by-mail movements and efforts to educate voters about them are more critical than ever.
4 million new voters: contact Detroit voters to urge them to find the absentee ballot request form they were mailed, check the box for the general election and send it in immediately.
Democratic operatives, progressive organizations and their allies must work with secretaries of state, city clerk and local boards of elections — the people who administer elections — to ensure that voters are getting all the right information to maximize voter participation. There is research that shows, for example, that to increase early voting, it is more important to have several accessible voting locations rather than extending hours at a fewer number of sites.
Other ways to take down barriers may include adding drop-box locations (specifically near communities of color) where voters can return mail ballots, making voting locations safe for social distancing on Election Day, and pushing lawmakers to extend the ballot-return deadline. There is a patchwork of organizations doing this vital work in the Big Four states. They must be fully funded and staffed up immediately.
6) Build on the trust between voters and progressive organizations. In 1943, the Congress of Industrial Organizations formed the first political action committee. In their organizing manual, the unions stressed that to win, it was vital to set up systems to have conversations with voters directly where they worked and lived — with people who were like them. As the value of paid communications (radio and then TV) rose, direct voter contact fell. By the 1990s, paid TV was the be-all and end-all. The AFL-CIO began to buck that trend in 1996. It went back to stressing person-to-person contact and, over the next 10 years, had great success.
That work became a successful model for others, including the 2008 and 2012 Obama campaigns, when peer-to-peer contact was key. Now, however, the coronavirus means person-to-person campaign tactics will be limited. As a result, campaigns and progressive startup groups are talking about digital organizing and things like “peer-to-peer” texting, discussing issues and providing COVID-19 resource direction as ways to build relationships with voters, before getting into discussions about the candidates and the election.
We need most massive campaign ever
That makes sense, but the fact is there are already many progressive organizations with preexisting, trusted relationships with voters. Among them are groups with ties to women and unions, two voter groups that will be vital to Biden’s success.
Biden holds a commanding lead nationally among women, 55-41%, according to the most recent CNN Poll. Groups like Supermajority and NARAL Pro-Choice America are mounting strong mobilization efforts. They must be funded.
Trump does it: project in the Midwest aimed at communicating with former union members and voters whom our models tell us like unions. We have targeted approximately 3.5 million voters in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. Our research has shown that 70% of these voters have a favorable opinion of unions; that 68% see unions as a viable, reliable source of information about candidates and issues; and that 66% are looking for a new, trusted source of information.
Unions and other progressive organizations must run the most massive campaign ever, starting with their members, who can then branch out to their relatives, co-workers and friends. There has never been a period like the one we are going through now. The pressure on our political system is enormous. In this chaos, the ground will undoubtedly continue to shift and campaigns, which are living, breathing things, must be agile and adapt to changes. But by staying focused, keeping our eye on the White House, funding the right projects and communicating with voters, we can end this Trumpian nightmare on Nov. 3.
Steve Rosenthal is president and founder of The Organizing Group and president of the Working for Us PAC. A former associate deputy Labor secretary in the Clinton administration and a former AFL-CIO political director, he has worked in every presidential effort since 1972.