Biden's once maligned digital operation raises big money by embodying candidate

워싱턴 When Rob Flaherty began describing 조 바이든‘s digital strategy as abattle for the soul of the Internet” 올해 초, the Democratic primary had barely ended, the former vice president’s campaign was alarmingly low on money and President 도날드 트럼프‘s digital-centric campaign looked like a juggernaut.

The upbeat phrase was quickly panned as a pollyannish view of the Internet.
But six months laterafter Biden raised $ 205 million online alone in August, 다만 $ 5 million less than the Trump campaign’s entire monthly haulBiden’s digital director and the rest of the campaign’s digital team feel a dash of vindication.
There was a game plan from the beginning that we’ve been executing on,” Flaherty said. “그래서, it made it easier to sort of tune all that stuff out.
    That sense was heightened on Sunday when each campaign filed with the Federal Election Commission, revealing Biden had $ 466 million in the bank, $ 141 million ahead of Trump’s $ 325 million in the bank. It’s a quick turn of fortune for Biden, who entered the general election in a formidable financial deficit to Trump and Republicans.
    Biden’s digital strategy, once seen as a weakness, has become one of the most notable growth areas of the campaign, one that has come about at a critical time as the ongoing coronavirus pandemic has pushed most Democratic campaigning online. With the help of millions of dollars in initial investment and a key partnership, Biden’s campaign has centered their strategy on the traits that make Biden a unique political figureempathy, calm and compassionand actively tried to stay away from matching Trump’s online fire with more fire.
    It was a unique bet: While outrage and anger do well on the Internet, as evidenced by both much of what Trump puts online and the way that many on the left respond to the President, the Biden campaign was staking its digital campaign on the idea that calming content would do just as well in a time of chaos.
    지금은, less than two months out from what many Democrats believe is the most consequential election of recent memory, the Biden team believes that risk has paid off.
    There is something about the vice president being a compassionate leader that really does resonate with people in a way that would not be intuitive, since many believe the internet to be a right-wing meme hell hole,” Flaherty said. “We are just playing a different game.

    Authentically Biden

    The mantra of Biden’s digital effort has been to showcase the former vice president for who he is.
    Biden does not live stream his daily life, nor does he respond to voters directly on Twitter. 과, most notably, rarely does the Biden team fire back at Trump with a caustic bard or mocking one-liner. 대신, Biden’s digital content walks the line between taking Trump seriouslyand calling him outwith attempting to focus on traits that have defined Biden’s decades-long political career.
    Some of the Democratic nominee’s most popular content has both used Trump’s own words against him and highlighted Biden’s interests. 토요일에, Biden’s digital team took a video of Trump saying, “You’ll never see me againif he loses to Biden and simply added Biden saying, “I’m Joe Biden and I approve this message.The video has more than 15.5 million views on Twitter, with millions more on Facebook and Instagram. Other popular content includes Biden talking about his love of cars, the former vice president simply putting on a mask or a conversation he had with a nurse at the outset of the coronavirus crisis.
    The way we raise money online reflects how the vice president raises money, which is by showing gratitude, bringing people in, making them feel like they’re a part of something,” said Flaherty. “Making people feel connected and part of the campaign, it makes them want to give more money.
    Caitlin Mitchell, Biden’s senior adviser for digital, colorfully described the goal as building enough atmosphere online that people want to stay atthe party.
    “먼저, you want to bring folks in the door, but once they get there, to the party, if you will, what kind of party it is and how it makes people feels is the difference,” said Mitchell. “You can have a giant party, but if it is no fun, and there is no music and there is no booze, people are going to leave. 그래서, we put a lot of effort into that stewardship. … We think that all of that relationship-building makes a huge difference. That’s the driver of our grassroots fundraising success.
    The strategy also helps Biden avoid two areas that worry digital strategists: Ones where he comes across as inauthentic and those where he is drawn into the often unseemly arenas where Trump chooses to fight the election.
    People always want to do a new, buzzy viral thing,” said Cassie Doyle, a digital strategist at Rising Tide Interactive. “But at the end of the day, digital works best when you use it to complement a candidate’s strengths, not make it into something they are not.
    It’s a fact that Biden’s team is well aware of, and something that Jen O’Malley Dillon and others find themselves reminding people of with regularity.
    I think one of the things that always happens people say: '오, 잘, Trump’s doing that, you need to just go do that more of that.’ 또는, this is how it works and the Internet this terrible place and fear wins,” the campaign manager said. “We just said no, we’re not going to do that because that is not who Joe Biden is.

    Sizable initial investments

    The former vice president ran a markedly old-school primary campaign, putting far less emphasis on digital than most Democratic operatives looking on from outside the campaign would have liked. The clearest sign of that was in the sheer number of digital operatives on staff: When Biden effectively locked up the Democratic primary in March, the campaign had 19 people working on their digital campaign, a number significantly smaller than what would eventually be needed.
    David Axelrod was one of those critics. The former top Obama adviser used a New York Times opinion piece in May to urge the Biden campaign to beef up its digital operation becauseonline speeches from his basement won’t cut it,” referring to the campaign’s tactics in the days and weeks after the coronavirus pandemic effectively shuttered the campaign trail.
    The concern from Axelrod and others led to considerable handwringing inside Democratic politics, 그러나, with outside operatives openly questioning why the digital staff was only two dozen people, a notably small number for a campaign that was about to be fought primarily on digital platforms. The concerns also led some to push the campaign to hire outside digital firms like Hawkfish, the Michael Bloomberg-funded digital firm.
    The campaign now employs over 200 people on digital communications, fundraising and organizing. Flaherty and other top Biden aides largely dismissed the earlier criticism, believing that the plan they had would eventually succeed, even if it took a few months.
    The first boost to Biden’s digital strategy came in late March, when the campaignthen led by new campaign manager Jen O’Malley Dilloninvested millions in acquiring emails and phone numbers for millions of people that the campaign hoped they could turn into donors, volunteers and supporters. That investment, which would go on to become a tens-of-millions-of-dollars commitment by the campaign, came at a time when the campaign was cash strapped, signaling how seriously Dillon and others took digital, even if their candidate was not a digital-first politician.
    “그 시점에서, all big financial allocations were pretty big decisions and it was honestly hedging on bets down the line,” O’Malley Dillon told CNN. “It was because we believed in this, it was because we saw it was going to be critical to be competitive in the general, but it meant we were doing this instead of other things at that time, for sure.
    Flaherty described the initial money spent on acquisition as aa good example of the campaign taking risks on digitalbecause there was no guarantee it would lead to millions in donations and came at a time when the campaign was cash strapped. 그러나, Flaherty added, that initial acquisition wasthe engine of the wholedigital operation because it allowed them to begin raising the money needed to fund a national campaign.
    Axelrod now lauds the Biden digital operation, saying the massive August fundraisingclearly reflects a consolidation behind him among Democrats,” but is also a sign ofhuge improvement over the primary when they lagged many of the other major campaigns in online donations.
    So yes,” 그는 말했다, “I think they have upped their game.

    Joining of Democratic fundraising efforts

    Then came help from the Democratic National Committee, which effectively merged its online fundraising apparatus with the Biden campaign in an effort to boost both.
    The Biden campaign tapped Clarke Humphrey, who had previously worked at the Democratic committee, to be its deputy digital director for grassroots fundraising in May, with the express goal of her integrating the Biden and DNC teams.
    That move was emphasized by the campaign bring in Mitchell, who had previously worked as chief mobilization officer at the DNC and held a similar role for Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s presidential campaign.
    We made a decision early on that our best bet was to not look at the DNC as a vessel that we could work through, but to look at them as a partner and that by doing that,” said Dillon, “we actually were able to put both of our lists to use.
      But even with these partnerships and investment, what has set the Biden campaign apart from past Democratic efforts, said Teddy Goff, the digital director for Barack Obama’s reelection campaign and the top digital strategist on Hillary Clinton’s 2016 매기다, was their ability to fully embrace who Biden is and translate it online.
      They are doing a better job than any campaign I have seen of fully inhabiting the character of their candidate,” Goff said, “and having that character shape the campaign as a whole.

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