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Barack Obama Is The Face Of The Democrats’ Closing Get-Out-The-Vote Push

Democrats are blitzing five key states with ads prominently featuring Barack Obama, as part of a final push for Joe Biden.

Posted on October 21, 2020, at 12:12 p.m. ET

Pool New / Reuters

Barack Obama speaks during the virtual Democratic National Convention on August 19.

Barack Obama is at the center of a new, seven-figure advertising blitz to drive voter turnout for Joe Biden in five battleground states over the final two weeks of the election.

Images of the former president — who will make his first public campaign appearance for Biden on Wednesday night in Philadelphia — are anchoring Democratic National Committee ads on 25 local news websites across Arizona, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, and Wisconsin.

The DNC push involves homepage takeovers that will “utilize all available advertising space” on the days they run in each market, according to details shared first with BuzzFeed News. It’s part of a wider effort to direct attention to a new DNC website, MakeAPlan.com, which walks voters through their options for casting their ballots early, by mail or in person, or on Election Day. The effort includes paid advertising in the form of state-specific quizzes (“Only a Florida Resident Will Be Able to Pass This Test”) on BuzzFeed.com (BuzzFeed News did not know about the advertising before reporting this story and does not work with the business side on editorial content).

“Whether you’re voting by mail, early in person or on Election Day, we’re making sure voters have all the information they need to make a plan to vote that works for them,” DNC Chair Tom Perez said in an emailed statement. “We’re reaching voters wherever they are, and making sure it’s easy for every voter to build and follow through on their own customized voting plan — that’s how we’re going to elect Joe Biden, Kamala Harris and Democrats at every level of the ballot.”

DNC ad

A picture of one of the new ads launching in battleground states.

Biden and the Democrats, mindful of the coronavirus pandemic and related health and social distancing protocols, have contained much of their get-out-the-vote effort to digital organizing and advertising. Trump and the Republicans, conversely, brag incessantly about how many doors they’ve knocked on while continuing to hold large gatherings without requiring masks.

The DNC has bought space on some of the largest newspaper sites in the five targeted swing states, including the Arizona Republic, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the Miami Herald, the Tampa Bay Times, the Charlotte Observer, and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

The emphasis on four of the states suggests Democrats believe the race could be decided in the Sun Belt. Arizona and Georgia — solid Republican states in recent presidential cycles — have been trending toward Democrats, and polls there show tight races between Biden and Trump. Both states also feature competitive races for the US Senate, with two seats in Georgia. Wisconsin is the only Midwest state the DNC is targeting with the push. Trump’s reelection campaign has been heavily scaling back its TV advertising in that region.

Biden appeared with Obama, whom he served as vice president, in a conversation videotaped and promoted by the Biden campaign. The two also used their socially distant time together to phone supporters, a preview of how Democrats hoped to use Obama however they could in a pandemic-era race. Biden spokespeople said content produced around the conversation received more than 25 million views over one week in July.

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