ICYMI: Dem Govs Will Play Key Role in 2020 Presidential Race
“They are seen as steady leaders who have done a good job handling this crisis. And that’s a great contrast to how people are viewing Trump right now.”
Democratic governors represent a sharp contrast to President Trump in their handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. While the Trump administration fumbled its response and refused to implement a national strategy, Democratic governors have led their states with clear communication, science, and data – and as a result, their approval ratings and name recognition have skyrocketed. McClatchy DC highlighted how Democratic governors’ heightened popularity will play an important role in the upcoming presidential election.
Since 2016, the DGA has won elections nine times in states Trump won. A focus on kitchen table issues such as healthcare, education, and jobs helped Democratic governors score key victories in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and North Carolina, as well as Minnesota, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, and Maine.
Another reason why the 2020 Democratic presidential campaign might look to Democratic governors? Democratic governors represent 288 electoral votes, and Biden only needs 270 of those to win.
Read more about the important role Democratic governors will play in the 2020 election:
McClatchy DC: Elevated by coronavirus response, swing-state Democratic governors could boost Biden
They’re popular, better known than ever before, and on the front lines of a global crisis.
And officials with Joe Biden’s campaign hope they can become a key part of their effort to defeat President Donald Trump.
A quartet of Democratic governors with elevated approval ratings — Roy Cooper in North Carolina, Tom Wolf in Pennsylvania, Gretchen Whitmer in Michigan, and Tony Evers in Wisconsin — might give Biden an important edge in battleground states that, collectively, would nearly guarantee him victory on Election Day, say Biden officials and Democratic strategists.
Already, Biden has personally conducted campaign events with some of the governors while campaign officials say they’ve already been in touch with the governors and their political teams asking for advice about building their in-state operation.
But as the general election reaches a higher gear, Biden officials and Democratic strategists believe the governors’ most important role will be making a blunt case that Trump’s response to the pandemic has worsened public health and the economy — and contrasting it their own actions to combat the coronavirus pandemic that so far have earned higher marks from the public.
Polls have shown that during the COVID-19 outbreak, voters favor the response of their local and state officials more than the response of Trump and the federal government.
“One of the things this crisis did is it elevated governors. It put them on the news a lot and elevated their profile,” said Molly Ritner, the Biden campaign’s deputy states director. “They are seen as steady leaders who have done a good job handling this crisis. And that’s a great contrast to how people are viewing Trump right now.”
Democratic operatives watching the swing states say it’s just not the governors’ approval ratings that are rising, but their overall name recognition, too. The ability to hold daily news conferences closely watched by the media and public alike have risen their visibility significantly in the last few months, strategists say, and given them extra credibility on an issue that might be voters’ No. 1 concern when they vote in November.
And that increase in credibility could make their coming attacks against Trump’s handling of the coronavirus more potent.
“As voters become more and more trusting in their governors in these key states to handle the coronavirus, they listen a little more to them on the issue,” said Ian Sams, a Democratic strategist. “And they take their opinion more seriously on how to handle the crisis.
“And if the governors are going around and saying that Trump did a bad job on this and we need Joe Biden to help us finish the job, that carries a lot of weight with voters,” Sams said.
Navigator, a Democratic polling and research operation, found in a survey release this week that 63% of voters trust state and local to handle the pandemic better than Trump and the federal government, compared to just 25% who trust the president and his administration more, a 38-point difference. In March, the same survey found a much smaller gap between the two, with only a 15-point difference between those who trusted state and local government more and those who trusted Trump and his administration.
Any boost Democratic governors provide would expand Biden’s already considerable edge over Trump on which candidate the public thinks is better suited to respond to the pandemic. A national Quinnipiac University survey released Thursday found voters, by 54% to 41%, favored Biden to respond to the virus. The poll also showed Biden with an 8-point lead overall.
Even Democrats caution, however, that the presence of popular incumbent governors in these states won’t be a panacea for Biden. They can be helpful in-state surrogates and regulars on the campaign trail, but some strategists privately doubted that they would be featured heavily in paid media, where the campaign puts its most important messages most likely to persuade voters.
Still, Biden officials say regardless of these governors’ impact on the campaign trail, they’ve already been helpful in helping assembling their campaigns in the state and as an emissary to their local network of donors and volunteers. This week, Whitmer held a virtual event launching the “Michigan Women for Biden” effort, which the campaign said drew 1,200 attendees.
“These are guys who know how to win in tough environments, and they have teams who know how to win in tough environments,” Ritner said. “So as we have been working toward setting up our general election structure, these are the teams we’ve been leaning on.”