Democrats launch early efforts to persuade undecided voters

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Democratic groups are ramping up persuasion efforts to convince undecided voters to cast ballots for President Biden. 

In an election where enthusiasm is low and voters are lukewarm on support for both parties’ candidates, Democrats are focusing on early persuasion in battleground states to help sway so-called surge voters — the part of the electorate who sat out during the 2016 presidential race but backed Biden during the 2020 cycle. 

The Democrats say they’re seeing a need to launch these efforts earlier than usual because of the unprecedented race between Biden and former President Trump and threats from third-party candidates like Robert F. Kennedy Jr. 

This week, for example, the progressive activist group MoveOn is intensifying the persuasion phase of a $32 million election program, which will engage those much-desired voters, sources tell The Hill.

Biden lags Trump across several polls, which have strategists saying the early contact is essential.

As part of their efforts, MoveOn members will participate in house parties beginning later this week to strengthen local connections with voters. Those parties will focus on what they say is one of their marquee issues: abortion. 

Organizers at MoveOn say issues like abortion and the fight for democracy have shown to be motivating for Democratic-leaning voters. 

MoveOn’s persuasion efforts will be handled by three “personalized contacts,” the sources say, which include phone, postcards and through in-person door-knocking, the sources say.

In 2020, the group took part in get-out-the-vote efforts much later in the cycle, in August. But it didn’t focus as much on persuasion, something they say is needed during this election.

“We believe that this strategy is key to doing the important work to successfully persuade voters and supply them with the information they need to protect their progress and their freedoms from Donald Trump and MAGA,” said Britt Jacovich, a press secretary for MoveOn. 

Other Democratic groups —including Indivisible and the Renegade Collective — and even unions including AFL-CIO are also expected to engage voters early through persuasion efforts. 

One source familiar with the AFL-CIO’s efforts says there is a specific focus on the Rust Belt states and having discussions on health care, wages and other issues.

“There’s so much noise and the only way to cut through that noise is conversation,” the union source said. “People don’t want the political speak.”

The efforts come as Trump continues to lead Biden in a string of recent polls. A CNN poll released earlier this week, for example, shows Trump ahead with 49 percent support to 43 percent in a head-to-head match-up. 

And in key battleground states — Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, Michigan, North Carolina, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania — the former president has a slim advantage over Biden, according to surveys published Tuesday from Emerson College Polling/The Hill, but the difference is within the survey’s margin of error. 

The polls have added to fears among Democrats who say more work should have been done in the previous presidential elections to turn out more Democrats.

“Ask Hillary Clinton about 2016 and whether or not voter contact is important,” said Democratic strategist Jamal Simmons. “You have to do voter contact, and you have to do it early.”

“The president and his team can’t do it alone. You need the echo chamber to tell the story,” Simmons added. “You need the surround sound telling voters what the administration has done, what it wants to do and what’s at stake in this election.” 

But Republicans say Democrats won’t move the needle by talking only about certain issues like abortion. 

“They have to be able to talk about other issues, and they seem stuck,” said Republican strategist Doug Heye. “For all the attention abortion has gotten in Arizona, you might forget from a D.C. newsroom that it’s a border state.”

Heye said the persuasion is only effective if they’re talking about the issues “that voters are clamoring for solutions on,” including the economy, inflation and the border. 

But Democrats say persuasion is particularly important now that Biden is president. 

“When you’re in power and your side controls the White House, there is a tendency for your side to become complacent, and that’s where the turnout message becomes important,” said Rachel Bitecofer, a political strategist and author of the new book, “Hit ‘Em Where it Hurts: How To Save Democracy By Beating Republicans At Their Own Game.” 

“At the end of the day, the field work is important,” Bitecofer said. “A lot of these surge voters are not paying attention to the daily news … The more contacts those people have to vote and vote Democrat, the better.”

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