MIAMI - Joe Biden's ground game in Florida is getting a jolt from billionaire Michael Bloomberg.
Bloomberg told the Miami Herald on Monday that he's giving $4 million to get-out-the-vote efforts on behalf of the Democratic presidential nominee in the nation's largest swing state. With the money, grassroots organizations held back for months by the coronavirus pandemic plan to promote Biden by talking face to face with voters in minority and "underrepresented" communities.
"The COVID-19 pandemic has upended this election season and changed the way campaigns are run in many ways - but one thing that remains unchanged is the importance of a strong ground game in engaging voters, informing them of what's at stake in this election, and ensuring they know how to make their voices heard at the ballot box," Bloomberg said in a statement to the Herald. "And that's especially true of Florida, where mail-in ballots have already been sent out and early voting begins in just three weeks."
Bloomberg's spending on neighborhood canvassing is only one piece of a $100 million commitment to beat President Donald Trump in Florida, a state he must win to be reelected. About half that money has been put into TV ads largely intended to reach Black and Hispanic voters.
But with polls suggesting the race in Florida is tight while 5 million mail ballots go out, progressive groups and Florida strategists believe the extended absence of a Biden ground game has left a weak spot in his campaign and could burn him in a state where elections can be won by a few hundred votes. Trump's campaign returned to in-person campaigning months ago, as the president continued to dismiss the severity of the pandemic.
To quickly fill the gap, Bloomberg is giving $1 million to BlackPAC to turn out Black voters in North and Central Florida, $1.5 million to Somos PAC to turn out Hispanic voters in Central Florida and another $1.5 million to For Our Future PAC to reach voters in "areas historically underrepresented at the polls."
The organizations say the money will help them expand their operations with barely five weeks until Nov. 3.
Melissa Morales, president of Somos PAC, said the group is planning to talk to hundreds of thousands of Latino voters and Bloomberg's money "will allow us to continue to scale our work in the final 37 days of this critical election cycle." Blake Williams, a spokesman for For Our Future Florida, said the money will help the organization and its partners "do the on-the-ground organizing to reach the voters who may very well decide this election."
BlackPAC Executive Director Adrianne Shropshire said the money ensures "trusted messengers" will carry Biden's message into minority communities.
"We know that in this election every single vote will matter. BlackPAC is committed to reaching Black voters through every means possible - on social platforms, on radio and television and, most importantly, in their neighborhoods," she said.
Other progressive organizations have pitched Bloomberg's advisers on investing in their field operations, believing that TV is saturated with political ads and there are voters better reached at their doorsteps. The number of positive coronavirus cases in Florida has also diminished since it peaked in July, and down-ballot Democrats have been talking to voters in person since before the Aug. 18 primary elections.
(Miami Herald staff writer Bianca Padro Ocasio contributed to this report.)
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