As Biden Takes Double-Digit Lead Nationally, Campaign Expands to Red States

A hallmark of President Donald Trump's short, successful political career has been that when the wheels often appear to be about to fall off, he rebounds, sometimes coming back stronger than before.

But his COVID-19 diagnosis, coming right on the heels of his chaotic debate performance, may be a different animal altogether, with Joe Biden putting distance between himself and the president while looking to press his advantage in states that were formerly ruby red.

From Georgia to North Carolina, and Texas to Arizona, Biden is pushing into territory that went for Trump in 2016, and wasn't expected to be a main area of focus for either campaign. National polling in recent days—Biden leading by 10 in a Reuters poll, a 14 point lead in an NBC News/WSJ poll, and a stunning 16 point advantage in a CNN poll Tuesday—have only buoyed the campaign as it looks to expand the electoral map.

"If you look at what is happening in the polling with dramatic shifts among older voters, with voters voting right now, it's an exceptionally dangerous environment for Donald Trump," said Brad Bauman, the former executive director of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.

In Texas, the environment now includes a $5.8 million ad blitz announced by the campaign on Monday that will hit the Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston, San Antonio and Austin markets, which led Texas Democratic Party chairman Gilberto Hinojosa to deem it "a hell of a lot more than anybody else ever spent, that's for sure," to the Dallas Morning News. Democrats have talked about turning Texas blue for years, but this is the first major investment by a Democrat during a modern presidential cycle.

Doug Emhoff, the husband of Senator Kamala Harris, is also in the midst of a Texas tour, visiting Edinburg and San Antonio, along with former presidential candidate Julian Castro and Representative Joaquin Castro.

"I'm encouraged to see the media buy by the Biden campaign of $6 million," Joaquin Castro told Newsweek. "I think that's going to go a long way towards winning Texas, not only for Joe Biden, but for our statewide candidates."

The Lincoln Project, which has sought to boost Biden with conservatives and former Republicans, announced Tuesday that it is also cutting new ads that are Texas-specific and aimed at Latinos. The ads, which will run digitally in suburban and rural counties such as Lubbock and Denton, and urban counties such as Travis, will specifically target Hispanics and 642,000 suburban and rural Republican women.

In Georgia, the race is essentially tied according to the Real Clear Politics average of recent polls, and Biden has a slight 1.2 percent lead in North Carolina. In those states the campaign is making use of Dr. Jill Biden, along with some help from the Democratic Party.

On Tuesday, Jill Biden made a multi-city stop in North Carolina, heading to Greenville for a GOTV rally at Pitt Community College and Fayetteville to meet with veterans and military families. On Monday, she will head to Atlanta and Columbus, Georgia, for events that have not been previewed yet by the campaign.

The Democratic National Committee announced a six-figure newspaper and radio campaign Tuesday beginning this week in both states, as well as a handful of other battleground states, aimed at getting black voters to visit where they can register to vote, check their voter registration, and make a plan to vote, in person and by mail. The ads will run in the Atlanta Voice in Atlanta, the Carolina Peacemaker in Greensboro and the Charlotte Post in Charlotte, North Carolina, along with a radio ad on WFXC-FM in Raleigh, North Carolina.

"Democrats are meeting Black voters where they are and making critical investments to ensure Americans have the information they need to make their plan to vote," said Democratic National Committee Chair Tom Perez.

Already, 4.2 million voters have voted in the general election, fueled by a significant jump in mail ballots, according to data from the United States Election Project released Tuesday, which Democrats see as a boon in key states.

"Where did they vote? In Wisconsin, Michigan, Florida, Georgia," Bauman said. "We're talking folks who are souring on Trump and locking their vote in earlier than ever before. Nobody in Trumpland should be very happy right now."

Castro said there are a lot more opportunities for Biden electorally than Democratic presidential nominees have had in a very long time because voters are finally turning against Trump.

"Most of the country sees a president who denied that COVID was real or dangerous, and has now become exhibit A for both of those things, and it has shaken whatever remaining confidence many Americans had in Donald Trump," he said.

The Biden campaign also announced a Wednesday conference call aimed at Spanish-language voters in Arizona called "Votantes de la Primera Semana," or First Week Voters, that will feature voters who are ready to early vote on the first day it is available.

While its leader has been off the field due to the coronavirus, the Trump campaign told Newsweek it welcomes Biden essentially burning money in states it says he can't win.

"Team Biden is throwing their Hollywood donations out the window in an attempt to use ads to catch up with President Trump's exceptional ground game," deputy national press secretary Ken Farnaso said. "All they are doing is throwing money at their problems in red states to distract from their spending in blue collar states where the president is doing well."

The Trump campaign said that in Georgia it has made nearly 8 million voter contacts and held 1,551 MAGA meetups with 13,000 attendees, while the campaign claimed nearly 7.4 million contacts in Texas with 749 MAGA meetups and 11,300 attendees, and some 7.7 million contacts and 1,715 meetups with 25,600 attendees in North Carolina.

But Luis Alvarado, a GOP strategist who joined The Lincoln Project, said the COVID-19 diagnosis doesn't just cut against the strength Trump desperately tries to tout, but also reminds voters who he really is at the worst possible time.

"His character has been his biggest weakness—his narcissism, his lack of empathy, his ineptitude—it's on full display," Alvarado told Newsweek. "The COVID episode is the cherry on top. It would be unconscionable to think anyone can't see how his deficiencies are affecting our government's ability to protect its citizens if he can't even protect White House staff."

Joe biden
Democratic presidential nominee and former Vice President Joe Biden speaks to journalists before boarding his plane at a local airport in Wilmington, Delaware as he begins a one-day campaign trip to Florida on October 5, 2020. Roberto Schmidt/AFP/Getty