'Joe Biden has no ground game in Florida': Will Mike Bloomberg's money change that?

By David Smiley, Miami Herald on

Published in Political News

MIAMI - Progressive activists backing Joe Biden in Florida say they've made millions of phone calls, sent hundreds of thousands of text messages and even written thousands of letters to persuade voters to support the Democratic presidential nominee.

But one thing they're largely not doing - and growing increasingly worried about - is talking to voters face to face.

Now, with the number of coronavirus cases down from their July peak in Florida and Election Day less than six weeks away, the state's largest left-leaning grassroots organizations and political field operations are making a last-minute push to get back in front of voters in a crucial battleground state where President Donald Trump's campaign has been on the ground since June.

"Joe Biden has no ground game in Florida," Pam Bondi, a former Florida attorney general and Trump campaign surrogate, said Wednesday on Fox News. "We have the best ground game in the country."

In order to address what they believe is a gap in the campaign behind Biden, a network of left-leaning political and issue advocacy organizations is turning to Michael Bloomberg, the billionaire former New York mayor who pledged this month to spend $100 million in the state to help Biden win Florida on Nov. 3.

Nearly two dozen organizations have pitched Bloomberg's advisers on a unified get-out-the-vote plan revolving around person-to-person interaction. Many say they have yet to hear back.


In the meantime, strategists say finding funding elsewhere has become difficult as smaller donors wait to see how Bloomberg will spend his money. But they clearly hope he'll spend a large sum on fixing Biden's in-person campaigning problem.

"There's a lot of anxiety among smart people who do this for a living and understand what it takes to win the state of Florida," said a Democratic political strategist who asked not to be named for fear of irking Bloomberg's team. "In an election where it's close, that matters. (Trump's campaign) is doing it and we're not."

It's unclear how much of the $100 million Bloomberg may dedicate to on-the-ground organizing in Florida, or how that money would be spent if allocated to field operations. A Bloomberg spokesperson on Wednesday would only say that some of his pledge will go toward get-out-the-vote efforts and, specifically, efforts to target mail voters.

Part of the drive to get back in front of voters is related to the release this week of nearly 5 million domestic vote-by-mail ballots by Florida elections officials. Polls are also finding that Biden is struggling somewhat with Hispanic voters in the state, with some strategists saying they are best reached in person. Meanwhile, Trump's campaign has been holding in-person events for weeks - in the midst of the pandemic - as polls show the race tightening and the president's standing in the state improving.


swipe to next page
(c)2020 Miami Herald, Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.