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Republicans surpass 150 million voter contacts

The GOP has surpassed a milestone in voter contacts in the 2020 cycle, reaching 150 million voters through door knocks and phone calls as it looks to produce a spike in Republican turnout in next month’s elections. 

The number of contacts by Trump Victory, the joint field effort between the Republican National Committee (RNC) and the Trump campaign, surpasses the high-water mark set by former President Obama’s reelection campaign in 2012 and nearly doubles the 71 million total voter contacts the group made in 2016. 

The milestone, reported first by The Hill, comes as Democratic presidential nominee Joe BidenJoe BidenGeraldo Rivera on Trump sowing election result doubts: 'Enough is enough now' Senate approves two energy regulators, completing panel Murkowski: Trump should concede White House race MORE has seen surges in fundraising, allowing him to spend large sums of money on advertising.

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The former vice president has relied more on virtual engagements and dumping millions of dollars into national and swing state ad buys as a way of appealing to voters during the coronavirus pandemic while following social distancing guidelines. He has only recently resumed in-person canvassing.

Meanwhile, Republicans have ramped up in-person outreach for months, saying they saw an opening while Biden moved himself off the trail, and Trump Victory is planning to spend nearly $300 million by the end of the 2020 cycle on its overall voter contact program, including field, data and digital efforts. 

“As President Obama’s running mate in 2012, Joe Biden witnessed the power of a muscular field operation. The fact that he has totally abandoned this strategy — with no chance of making it up just days before an election — is mind-blowing. The RNC and Trump campaign have built the largest political operation in history fueled by volunteer enthusiasm and a genuine belief in a candidate, and this will make all the difference on Nov. 3,” said RNC national press secretary Mandi Merritt.

Trump Victory, which boasts over 2.5 million volunteers, credits the millions it's invested in its sophisticated data program with fueling its outreach program, saying it is better able to figure out who it needs to target with in-person efforts.

“Our data operation is the backbone and foundation of our field program, influencing the strategy behind who we target. This enables us to be more efficient with our time and resources as we know who to target with the right message at the right time,” Trump Victory national field director Elliott Echols told The Hill.

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The outreach has been nationwide, though stringent efforts have been made to contact voters located in swing states. Over 1 million volunteer voter contacts were made in one week in Florida, while 12 million voter contacts have been made in Wisconsin, among other states. 

With Biden holding single-digit leads in many swing state polls, the GOP is hopeful that its voter contact efforts will pay dividends and potentially even decide the race.

Echols told The Hill that Trump Victory saw in 2016 a 15 percent increase in voter turnout in areas where it had fully built out its “neighborhood team model of community organizing” compared to areas it did not have the same staffing, a trend that could make an impact in some of the toughest battlegrounds.

“In 2016, President TrumpDonald John TrumpGeraldo Rivera on Trump sowing election result doubts: 'Enough is enough now' Murkowski: Trump should concede White House race Scott Atlas resigns as coronavirus adviser to Trump MORE won Michigan by an average of two votes per precinct, so our ability to target and turn out voters will give us the upper hand on the Biden campaign. An effective ground game makes all the difference in states that are won by the margins,” he said. 

Democrats for months eschewed such an extensive voter contact program during the pandemic, scrapping in-person canvassing and door-knocking to follow social distancing guidelines.

Trump Victory touted safety measures that include spending over $130,000 on personal protective equipment and office cleaning and providing every staff member with an eight-page document detailing health protocols, but it declined to say if any confirmed coronavirus cases had been linked to its voter contact program. 

The Biden campaign has invested over $100 million in its on-the-ground organizing efforts and the Democratic Party has seen a surge in voter registration. The campaign and the Democratic National Committee (DNC) are gauging their in-person interactions based on the quality of “conversations” they have with voters, which Trump Victory calls a “fake metric.”

“Democrats are swamping Republicans in key field metrics like registration and participation because our field programs are based on having meaningful conversations with voters -- and for the next two weeks we’re going to keep our foot on the gas until we make Trump a one-term president,” said DNC director of battleground state communications David Bergstein. “We're continuing to take nothing for granted and our direct voter contact programs will continue to run circles around the GOP as we reach out to every voter we’ll need to win.”