President Trump’s reelection team is confident its burgeoning ground game in Wisconsin will be able to “chase down” Republicans skeptical of absentee voting and deliver victory come November.
Andrew Iverson, the state director for Trump Victory Wisconsin, told WisPolitics.com the GOP’s ground game, which he said recently knocked its millionth door, would prove to be pivotal after the Biden campaign took its voter outreach program online in the wake of the pandemic.
“Both sides are going to flood the TV airwaves,” he said in an interview. “Really what’s going to make a difference in a tight state like Wisconsin is personal interaction.”
A Biden campaign spokesperson declined to comment. But a memo from State Director Danielle Melfi released last week indicated Biden campaign organizers reached out to nearly 1 million voters by phone over two days.
Republican National Committee Regional Political Director Clayton Henson said personal interaction will be key to convincing GOP voters who are “less comfortable voting absentee than voting on Election Day” to engage with the absentee process.
“We are confident in our ability to go get those ballots and confident in our ability to help get voters out in early voting and on Election Day,” Henson told WisPolitics.com. “That’s going to require a team and an infrastructure that can do it and that’s something that we have built here.”
Both Iverson and Henson spoke with WisPolitics.com before a federal judge in Madison on Monday ordered absentee ballots postmarked by Nov. 3 to be counted so long as they’re received by Nov. 9. A Trump campaign spokeswoman said that decision did not impact voter turnout efforts geared toward absentee voting.
But while Henson touted the Trump campaign’s ground game, he conceded Republicans would likely be “in a deficit on absentee ballot requests.”
For one, Henson said Dem voters are simply more comfortable with absentee voting. But he said that had little to do with the president’s attacks on voting by mail, which he said were limited to states where absentee ballots are being sent to all registered voters.
Wisconsin does not have such a process, though the state Elections Commission earlier this month mailed absentee ballot applications to some 2.6 million registered voters.
Iverson attributed GOP voters’ discomfort with absentee voting to being “old-fashioned” and preferring to hand a ballot directly to a clerk.
Henson also cited a different data point that gives Dems an edge in absentee voting: so-called calendar year requests. The “vast majority” of absentee requests so far this year fall into that category, which allows a voter to receive absentee ballots for all elections in a calendar year. With a contested presidential primary in the state earlier this year, Henson said Dems have a head start on requesting absentee ballots.
An Elections Commission spokesman was not able to verify that claim.
While their electoral opponents have an advantage in absentee requests, the Trump campaign believes its turnout effort will convince Republican voters to return absentee ballots at a higher rate.
“That’s going to require a very active chase program, which is going to be a lot of infrastructure on the ground and a team that can do that,” Henson said. “We have the biggest team a presidential re-election or election has ever seen for a Republican candidate in Wisconsin.”
Iverson declined to go into detail when pressed if the Trump campaign in Wisconsin has specific metrics it’s aiming for in terms of ballot return rate. But he said he has data on Republican voters who have requested an absentee ballot and pledged to “chase them and track down just how many of those ballots are being returned.”
“We will be able to see from our data each day the gap tightening internally here,” he said.
See the Biden campaign memo here.