Campaigning during coronavirus: How presidential candidates are reaching voters digitally

Updated: Apr. 15, 2020 at 9:27 AM EDT
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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - The roar of the crowd is gone.

This time of year, voters would normally be headed to campaign rallies for their favorite candidate. But, as social distancing continues, the presidential race has moved online.

“The campaign has moved to the digital realm,” said Trump campaign communications director Tim Murtaugh.

Instead of large rallies, the Trump campaign streams virtual events and a new nightly show.

“We know there are millions of Americans who support the president, and are itching to get involved, and are sitting at home with a lot of time on their hands,” Murtaugh said.

The show is on major social media platforms. Trump’s team reports every program gets at least one million unique views.

You won’t see the president in most online events, however. His campaign says he is busy dealing with the coronavirus response. But the presumptive Democratic nominee former Vice President Joe Biden is on camera.

“I think it’s reaching people differently,” said Biden campaign surrogate Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif).

Biden hosts tele-town halls, virtual roundtables and happy hours. His campaign says 20 million people viewed their online content in the second half of March.

“That’s not necessarily covered on the news, because the news is covering 24/7 the virus, as they should,” Bass said. “Does it make sense that the presidential campaign would be on the front pages and on the news 24/7, or is it more appropriate that the communication take place differently?”

One thing both campaigns seem to agree on is they are satisfied with the number of voters they are reaching virtually.

While the 2020 presidential election might not dominate the headlines right now, the competition is settling into its new arena online.

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