WASHINGTON, D.C. — President Donald Trump plans to intensify an already breakneck travel schedule in the final full week of the presidential campaign.
Trump is expected to hit nearly a dozen states in his last-ditch effort to recover ground from Democrat Joe Biden, including Sunday’s trip to Maine and Tuesday’s to Nebraska. Both states award electoral votes by congressional district and could be crucial in a tight election. Trump will hold 11 rallies in the final 48 hours alone.
Biden is staying close to his Wilmington, Delaware, home on Monday. But he plans to pick up his travel schedule later in the week, aiming to hit the six battleground states the campaign sees as key to his chances, some with socially distanced in-person events and others with virtual events. On Tuesday, the former vice president is traveling to Georgia, a state that hasn’t voted for a Democratic presidential candidate in more than a quarter-century but where polls show a tight race.
Biden’s team argues the coronavirus is likely to blot out any other issues that might come up in the final days of the campaign — including Biden’s recent debate-stage comment in which he affirmed he’d transition away from oil, later walked back as a transition away from federal subsidies. That strategy appeared to pay off as the outbreak in Pence’s staff refocused the national conversation once again on the pandemic.
Trump and his team, meanwhile, have struggled to settle on a closing message, with the undisciplined candidate increasingly trusting his gut over his advisers. He’s grasped for dirt on his Democratic rival and used apocalyptic terms to describe a Biden presidency, but Biden has thus far proven more resilient to such attacks than Trump’s 2016 rival.
“You can certainly expect that (Biden) will focus on COVID as it continues to, unfortunately, rise all across the country,” Biden deputy campaign manager Kate Bedingfield said in an interview. “It’s it is disrupting people’s lives and people are looking for a leader to put in place plans to get it under control.”
With more than a third of the expected ballots in the election already cast, it may become increasingly challenging for Trump and Biden to reshape the contours of the race. Biden is leading Trump in most national polls and but the race is tighter in many key battlegrounds.
Still, multiple Democrats described the “2016 PTSD” that’s keeping them up at night a week out from Election Day. In 2016, Hillary Clinton also enjoyed a lead in national and some state polls, and Democrats say their complacency then doomed their candidate. Now, with the pandemic and record numbers of mail and absentee ballots injecting a greater level of uncertainty into the election, Democrats are reluctant to let their guard down.
Biden’s campaign will focus in the final week on turning out what they’ve dubbed the “Biden coalition” — black and Latino voters, as well as suburban, college-educated whites, women and older voters disaffected by Trump.
“What we see consistently is there aren’t a whole lot of undecided voters left, and at this stage of the race it’s really about turnout. It’s about educating voters to make sure they know how to vote, and it’s about making sure that that they turn out,” Bedingfield said.