How Democrats are targeting voters in swing states

During this week’s Republican National Convention, Joe Biden didn’t travel as much for in-person counter-programming as his opponent did last week. While President Trump held multiple events in multiple states during the Democratic National Convention, Biden did a round of television interviews, and his running mate, Kamala Harris, gave a speech. With national attention focused on the RNC, Hurricane Laura, wildfires, COVID-19 and riots in Kenosha, Wis., the Democratic National Committee attempted to push personal stories at the local level, a strategy it intends to pursue through November’s election.

In events set up by state Democratic parties in coordination with the Biden campaign and the DNC, a number of activists and local officials who spoke at the convention continued to push for Biden and attempt to outline what they see as the failures of the Trump administration. With Trump and Biden set to dominate national headlines, the Democrats are also mounting a small-ball game plan aimed at winning favorable local coverage in key states.

Many of the messages are directed at health care. Between the White House’s response to the coronavirus pandemic and its attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act, much of the messaging is on health care, a key issue that helped Democrats take back the House of Representatives in 2018.

30 PHOTOS

Joe Biden in 2020

See Gallery

WILMINGTON, DELAWARE – JUNE 30: Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden speaks during a campaign event June 30, 2020 at Alexis I. Dupont High School in Wilmington, Delaware. Biden discussed the Trump Administration’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

WILMINGTON, DELAWARE – JUNE 30: Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden speaks during a campaign event June 30, 2020 at Alexis I. Dupont High School in Wilmington, Delaware. Biden discussed the Trump Administration’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

US Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden answers questions after speaking about the coronavirus pandemic and the economy on June 30, 2020, in Wilmington, Delaware. (Photo by Brendan Smialowski / AFP) (Photo by BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images)

US Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden leaves after speaking about the coronavirus pandemic and the economy on June 30, 2020, in Wilmington, Delaware. (Photo by Brendan Smialowski / AFP) (Photo by BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images)

US Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden answers questions after speaking about the coronavirus pandemic and the economy on June 30, 2020, in Wilmington, Delaware. (Photo by Brendan Smialowski / AFP) (Photo by BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images)

TOPSHOT – US Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden speaks about the coronavirus pandemic and the economy on June 30, 2020, in Wilmington, Delaware. (Photo by Brendan Smialowski / AFP) (Photo by BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images)

LANCASTER, PA – JUNE 25: Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden arrives to speak to families who have benefited from the Affordable Care Act during an event at the Lancaster Recreation Center on June 25, 2020 in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Biden met with families who have benefited from the Affordable Care Act and made remarks on his plan for affordable health care. (Photo by Joshua Roberts/Getty Images)

LANCASTER, PA – JUNE 25: Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden speaks to families who have benefited from the Affordable Care Act during an event at the Lancaster Recreation Center on June 25, 2020 in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Biden met with families who have benefited from the Affordable Care Act and made remarks on his plan for affordable health care. (Photo by Joshua Roberts/Getty Images)

LANCASTER, PA – JUNE 25: Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden speaks to Amy Raslevich (C) and her daughter Laura about how they have benefited from the Affordable Care Act during an event at the Lancaster Recreation Center on June 25, 2020 in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Biden met with families who have benefited from the Affordable Care Act and made remarks on his plan for affordable healthcare. (Photo by Joshua Roberts/Getty Images)

LANCASTER, PA – JUNE 25: Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden speaks during an event about affordable healthcare at the Lancaster Recreation Center on June 25, 2020 in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Biden met with families who have benefited from the Affordable Care Act and made remarks on his plan for affordable healthcare. (Photo by Joshua Roberts/Getty Images)

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden delivers remarks after meeting with Pennsylvania families who have benefited from the Affordable Care Act on June 25, 2020 in Lancaster,Pennsylvania. – Biden has largely remained off the campaign trail and in his Delaware home since mid-March due to the pandemic, although he has begun participating in small-scale events. (Photo by JIM WATSON / AFP) (Photo by JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images)

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden speaks about reopening the economy during a round table discussion at Carlettes Backyard Bar & Soul food Restaurant in Yeadon, Pennsylvania on June 17, 2020. (Photo by JIM WATSON / AFP) (Photo by JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images)

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden holds a roundtable meeting on reopening the economy with community leaders at the Enterprise Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on June 11, 2020. (Photo by JIM WATSON / AFP) (Photo by JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images)

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden holds a roundtable meeting on reopening the economy with community leaders at the Enterprise Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on June 11, 2020. (Photo by JIM WATSON / AFP) (Photo by JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images)

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden holds a roundtable meeting on reopening the economy with community leaders at the Enterprise Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on June 11, 2020. (Photo by JIM WATSON / AFP) (Photo by JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images)

Democratic presumptive presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden speaks via video link as family and guests attend the funeral service for George Floyd at The Fountain of Praise Church on June 9, 2020, in Houston. – George Floyd will be laid to rest Tuesday in his Houston hometown, the culmination of a long farewell to the 46-year-old African American whose death in custody ignited global protests against police brutality and racism.Thousands of well-wishers filed past Floyd’s coffin in a public viewing a day earlier, as a court set bail at $ 1 million for the white officer charged with his murder last month in Minneapolis. (Photo by David J. Phillip / POOL / AFP) (Photo by DAVID J. PHILLIP/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

TOPSHOT – Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee and former Vice President Joe Biden arrives to speak at Delaware State Universitys student center in Dover, Delaware, on June 5, 2020. (Photo by JIM WATSON / AFP) (Photo by JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images)

Former vice president and Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden meets with clergy members and community activists during a visit to Bethel AME Church in Wilmington, Delaware on June 1, 2020. – Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden visited the scene of an anti-racism protest in the state of Delaware on May 31, 2020, saying that the United States was “in pain”. “We are a nation in pain right now, but we must not allow this pain to destroy us,” Biden wrote in Twitter, posting a picture of him speaking with a black family at the cordoned-off site where a protesters had gathered on Saturday night. (Photo by JIM WATSON / AFP) (Photo by JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images)

Former vice president and Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden meets with clergy members and community activists during a visit to Bethel AME Church in Wilmington, Delaware on June 1, 2020. – Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden visited the scene of an anti-racism protest in the state of Delaware on May 31, 2020, saying that the United States was “in pain”. “We are a nation in pain right now, but we must not allow this pain to destroy us,” Biden wrote in Twitter, posting a picture of him speaking with a black family at the cordoned-off site where a protesters had gathered on Saturday night. (Photo by JIM WATSON / AFP) (Photo by JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images)

Democratic presidential candidate and former US Vice President Joe Biden (L) departs the Delaware Memorial Bridge Veteran’s Memorial Park after paying respects to fallen service members in New Castle, Delaware, May 25, 2020. – Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, emerged from more than two months of seclusion on May 25, wearing a black face mask during a visit to lay a wreath on the day the United States honors its war dead. Biden’s last public appearance was March 15 when he faced off against his former Democratic rival Bernie Sanders for a debate in a television studio held with no live audience. (Photo by Olivier DOULIERY / AFP) (Photo by OLIVIER DOULIERY/AFP via Getty Images)

Democratic presidential candidate and former US Vice President Joe Biden arrives to pay his respects to fallen service members on Memorial Day at Delaware Memorial Bridge Veteran’s Memorial Park in Newcastle, Delaware, May 25, 2020. (Photo by Olivier DOULIERY / AFP) (Photo by OLIVIER DOULIERY/AFP via Getty Images)

Democratic presidential candidate and former US Vice President Joe Biden and his wife Jill Biden, leave Delaware Memorial Bridge Veteran’s Memorial Park after paying their respects to fallen service members in Newcastle, Delaware, May 25, 2020. (Photo by Olivier DOULIERY / AFP) (Photo by OLIVIER DOULIERY/AFP via Getty Images)

Democratic presidential candidate and former US Vice President Joe Biden and his wife Jill Biden, pay their respects to fallen service members on Memorial Day at Delaware Memorial Bridge Veteran’s Memorial Park in Newcastle, Delaware, May 25, 2020. (Photo by Olivier DOULIERY / AFP) (Photo by OLIVIER DOULIERY/AFP via Getty Images)

Democratic presidential candidate and former US Vice President Joe Biden with his wife Jill Biden, pay their respects to fallen service members on Memorial Day at Delaware Memorial Bridge Veteran’s Memorial Park in Newcastle, Delaware, May 25, 2020. (Photo by Olivier DOULIERY / AFP) (Photo by OLIVIER DOULIERY/AFP via Getty Images)

WASHINGTON, DC – APRIL 28: Former Vice President Joe Biden speaks with Hillary Clinton during The Impact of COVID-19 on Women virtual town hall event as seen livestreaming on a laptop in Washington, DC on April 28, 2020. During the event, Hillary Clinton endorsed Joe Biden for president. (Photo by Carolyn Van Houten/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

LOS ANGELES – APRIL 21: James chats with Joe Biden Melanie C from his garage on THE LATE LATE SHOW WITH JAMES CORDEN, scheduled to air Tuesday, April 21, 2020 (12:37-1:37 AM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network. Photo is a screen grab. (Photo by CBS via Getty Images)

UNKNOWN LOCATION – APRIL 13: In this screengrab taken from JoeBiden.com campaign website, U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) endorses Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden during a live streaming broadcast on April 13, 2020. Sanders said, “Today, I am asking all Americans—I’m asking every Democrat, I’m asking every Independent, I’m asking a lot of Republicans—to come together in this campaign to support your candidacy.” (Photo by JoeBiden.com via Getty Images)

El exvicepresidente Joe Biden habla con los medios de comunicación y un puñado de simpatizantes en Berston Field House el 9 de marzo de 2020, en Flint, Michigan. (John J. Kim/Chicago Tribune/Tribune News Service via Getty Images)

Democratic presidential candidate, former Vice President Joe Biden arrives to speak at Alexis Dupont High School in Wilmington, Del., Tuesday, June 30, 2020. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

Democratic presidential candidate, former Vice President Joe Biden speaks at Alexis Dupont High School in Wilmington, Del., Tuesday, June 30, 2020. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

HIDE CAPTION

SHOW CAPTION

of

SEE ALL

BACK TO SLIDE

Michelle Boyle, a Pittsburgh-area nurse and SEIU member, took part in a roundtable on the opening night of the Democratic convention followed by a virtual press call earlier this week. Boyle said she became more involved through her union in supporting the Affordable Care Act after her mother-in-law, who had a preexisting condition, lost her job then her health insurance and died a year later at age 58.

“I don’t want to screw this up,” said Boyle. “There’s too much depending on this, that’s why it’s so scary. I don’t want to do something wrong, I want to make sure I’m doing the right thing to help move this forward. I’ve been a nurse now for 26 years, and stepping out and doing something even though it scares you anyway is far less painful than what I have experienced as a nurse.”

Steve Gomez became an advocate for protecting the ACA following Trump’s election, telling the story of his son Anthony, who was born in 2015 with a rare heart defect. Both Steve and Anthony joined Biden for a conversation during the convention, and afterward, Gomez was asked to continue telling his story, starting this week with an event set up by the Arizona Democratic Party.

In this image from video, Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden leads a conversation on health care with Julie Buckholt, Steve Gomez, Jeff Jeans, Laura Packard, and Dr. Angie Taylor during the second night of the Democratic National Convention on Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2020. (Democratic National Convention via AP)

“There are too many families across the country like mine who have family members with preexisting conditions or substantial medical costs,” Gomez said. “If the protections the ACA offers are gone, one, you face the aspect of how do I even get health care, and two, once you do get your treatment, are you having to put your house up for sale or risk not paying your bills or basically going into financial ruin in order to stay alive?”

Kristin Urquiza, who spoke at the convention about losing her father, Mark, to COVID-19, will also work with the DNC going forward.

The DNC has also tapped activists focused on issues beyond health care. Fred Guttenberg has been an outspoken advocate for new gun safety legislation since losing his daughter, Jaime, in the 2018 Parkland, Fla., school shooting. After speaking at the DNC, he did a joint press call with Rep. Donna Shalala, D-Fla. Khizr Khan, the Gold Star father who spoke at the 2016 convention and represented Virginia during the roll call this year, expressed concern about the Trump administration’s treatment of immigrants.

Convention organizers had been criticized by some Texas Democrats for giving the state short shrift, with neither of its former presidential candidates, Beto O’Rourke and Julián Castro, being given solo speaking slots. But two of the speakers — Michele Beebe, an El Paso, Texas, elementary school nurse who discussed health care at the convention, and Robert Lopez, a firefighter from the Rio Grande Valley who participated in a roundtable with Biden — will continue being advocates in the state.

In this image from video, Khizr Khan speaks during the state roll call vote on second night of the Democratic National Convention on Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2020. (Democratic National Convention via AP)

Local officials like Nevada state Sen. Yvanna Cancela and Portage County (Ohio) Commissioner Kathleen Clyde will also be part of the coordinated effort.

Will these hyperlocal events have an effect on a national race that has settled into a fairly stable equilibrium, with Biden holding a steady, if not quite safe, lead? That’s unlikely, but they could provide value at the margins in key states. Trump won Pennsylvania by just 44,000 votes in 2016, the tightest result in the state in decades, while polling consistently shows Texas within a single point. In Arizona, Biden has a slight lead in most polls after Trump defeated Hillary Clinton there by 3.5 points.

“Americans across the battleground states are stepping up and sharing the devastating consequences of Donald Trump’s failed presidency because they know firsthand how much is at stake in this election,” John Weber, DNC deputy director of battleground state communications, told Yahoo News in a statement. “They’re some of our best messengers to define and localize Trump’s record — they were key to the success of our unprecedented convention and in ensuring folks in their state heard the truth during the RNC, and they’re going to continue sharing their stories about Trump’s broken promises leading up to Election Day.”

As the DNC begins to ramp up digital events, Biden himself has been criticized by Trump for his lack of travel. On Thursday, the Democratic nominee said he would likely return to the trail after Labor Day.

“One of the things we’re thinking about is I’m going to be going up into Wisconsin, and Minnesota, spending time in Pennsylvania, out in Arizona. But we’re going to do it in a way that is totally consistent with being responsible, unlike what this guy’s doing,” Biden said at a campaign fundraising event, according to a pool report. “I’m a tactile politician. I really miss being able to, you know, grab hands, shake hands, you can’t do that now. But I can in fact appear beyond virtually, in person, in many of these places.”

_____

Read more from Yahoo News:

AOL