President Biden’s fledgling reelection team anticipates picking up more support from independent and Republican voters in the 2024 elections in part by seeking out White, rural and suburban voters, targeting two southern states where Republicans currently dominate and shoring up support among Latino voters who have shown a growing preference for GOP candidates.
The strategy, laid out in memo released by the reelection campaign Thursday, comes as Mr. Biden’s overall approval rating remains mired in the 40s amid tepid enthusiasm for his bid among fellow Democrats, declining support among independents and little backing among registered Republican voters, based on recent CBS News polling and surveys by other national outlets.
But Biden-Harris campaign manager Julie Chavez Rodriguez argues the president enters the 2024 fray “in a markedly strong position,” given the Democratic Party’s strong showing in midterm elections that staved off fears of a bigger House Republican majority at the president’s two-year mark.
“In 2022, Democrats won elections in spite of a turnout environment that was more Republican than in 2020. This shows that, under the Biden administration, we have gained support from Republican and independent swing voters who had not previously voted for Democrats,” Chavez Rodriguez writes.
She notes Democrats have one at least one competitive statewide race in the seven battleground states that determined the 2020 presidential election — Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin — highlighting especially the recent state Supreme Court win in Wisconsin by a Democratic-supported candidate who turned out voters in critical Milwaukee suburban counties, and Democratic wins in mayoral races in Jacksonville and Colorado Springs as signs of “real strength we have going into 2024.”
So how does the campaign anticipate winning back the 306 Electoral College votes it earned in 2020?
By shoring up the industrial state “blue wall” of Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin; investing again in Nevada and New Hampshire, two states Republicans continue to believe they can snatch away from Democrats; by prevailing again in Arizona and Georgia; and by investing more resources “in states like North Carolina and Florida,” according to the memo. The campaign is already spending millions of dollars to run television ads in all of those states except New Hampshire.
Mr. Biden lost North Carolina by 1.3%, and Democrats haven’t won the Tar Heel State in a presidential contest since Barack Obama did in 2008. Former President Donald Trump won Florida by 3.3% in 2020, and Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis was reelected last year by 19.4%. Florida Democrats argue soft enthusiasm for their candidate, Charlie Crist, and moves by the GOP-controlled state legislature to tweak election laws helped depress the party’s turnout, which can easily be buoyed in a presidential election year if the Biden-Harris campaign invests in the state.
But in the closing weeks of the 2020 election cycle, billionaire Mike Bloomberg personally invested $100 million to help Mr. Biden win Florida — to no avail. In 2024, several hundreds of millions of dollars in advertising and get-out-the-vote costs are likely needed to be spent by the reelection campaign and aligned super PACs, according to party strategists.
Winning the nine states the Biden-Harris campaign is initially targeting will require building on the “small, but critical gains among rural and white working class voters in battleground states” in 2020, according to the memo. And while the president won suburban voters, “we know there is room to grow this suburban coalition in the face of extreme Republican policies” — especially abortion rights, the memo says.
The campaign is also heartened by support among minority voters that “remained relatively consistent between 2020 and 2022, particularly in critical 2024 battleground states.” But a growing segment of Latino voters, especially younger men in Florida, Nevada and Texas, are eschewing traditional Democratic Party support.
And yet, the campaign correctly notes Latino support “showed real stability across the country in 2022 — from Arizona and Nevada to Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and the Rio Grande Valley in Texas.” Singling out support along the U.S.-Mexico border is a nod to widely publicized Republican predictions that the GOP would sweep three competitive House districts representing the RGV. Ultimately, just enough traditionally Democratic voters in the predominantly Latino districts turned out to secure narrow victories in two of the three races. And Arizona Democrats eked out close statewide victories thanks to a growing bloc of younger, liberal Latino voters.
How the Biden-Harris campaign plans to reach voters — and how much money it will spend to do so — remains one of the big unanswered questions in the early weeks of the reelection bid. Chavez Rodriguez provides few new hints, other than to acknowledge, “Today’s media environment has never been more fragmented.” Instead, she signals the campaign hopes to micro-target supportive voters through digital means, using unexplained “innovative strategies to break through and connect with voters where they are.”
That’s likely to include an aggressive use of TikTok, a platform owned by the Chinese firm ByteDance, which faces an ongoing push by the White House and a bipartisan coalition on Capitol Hill to heavily regulate, if not outright ban the social media tool on government devices and potentially to children. And the campaign is regularly releasing short digital videos touting the president’s accomplishments or seeking to highlight new policy priorities.
Nodding to the long-held believe among Biden political aides that he is a historically underestimated, underappreciated political talent, the reelection team is urging supporters to anticipate, if not relish and exploit, intense scrutiny of their strategy.
“Driving our campaign are the lived experiences of the American people, not the political echo chamber,” Chavez Rodriguez writes. “Polls and pundits have underestimated Joe Biden his entire life, and he’s proved them wrong time and time again.”