November 4, 2018. On the tarmac at Macon Airport in Georgia, Air Force One, the presidential plane, arrives in the distance, to the applause of supporters of the president.
That day, just before the mid-term elections, Donald Trump comes to lend a hand to an important ally: Brian Kemp, Republican candidate for governor of Georgia. The president is not himself on the ballots, but he is coming to mobilize the base in the approach of a poll that promises to be very close.
Almost two years later, Donald Trump once again takes to a stage set up at the same airport in the small town an hour and a half away from Atlanta.
This time, it's his own candidacy that Donald Trump comes to defend.
The choice of stop may seem surprising. In 2016, Donald Trump won Georgia by a comfortable margin of over 5% over Hillary Clinton. A much more decisive victory than that in the key states of Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, where the president won by less than a percentage point.
Another astonishing stop in Donald Trump’s schedule last week: Iowa, where the Republican candidate got nearly 10% more than his Democratic opponent four years ago.
The president, who is stepping up visits to pivotal states, says he has gone on the offensive. In recent days, he has visited Arizona and even Nevada, a state where his team has long held hopes of beating the Democrats. Donald Trump even said he was hopeful of winning in California, where he stopped for a fundraiser (Hillary Clinton won with more than 61% of the vote in 2016).
Nevertheless, the president's stops a few weeks before the vote in certain states where he had obtained good results four years ago rather give the impression of a fallback strategy on the part of the Republicans, who must also protect senatorial seats in Iowa and Georgia.
Millions in advertising
Another indication of the dynamics of the race: the money invested in advertising … and especially the places chosen to spend these amounts.
Over the past month, media have reported that the president's re-election campaign has cut investments in Michigan and Wisconsin. This week, advertising contracts were also canceled in Ohio and Minnesota (a state that the Trump camp says it wants to take from Democrats this year).
On Monday, the Trump campaign, together with the Republican Party, finally announced a new investment of $ 55 million for advertisements aimed at the markets of Arizona, North Carolina, Florida, Georgia, Pennsylvania, Michigan. of Wisconsin.
On the Democratic side, where Camp Biden raised a record $ 383 million in September, investments are heavily concentrated in Florida, Arizona, then Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania.
The Biden campaign is also showing signs of its willingness to expand its electoral map. Earlier this month, $ 6 million was invested in the Republican Fortress Texas, an amount Democrats had not spent in that state for quite a while.
The danger of complacency
For the first time in a long time, winning Texas is possible. Can't you feel it?Joe Biden’s wife Jill asked during a visit to the southern state last week.
Among the Democrats, the expansionist aims of some raise questions. Should the party seize its financial advantage and attempt to make gains that would not have been imaginable just a few months ago, or should it focus on states that escaped it four years ago and which contributed to Donald Trump's victory?
One thing is certain, many activists still have the 2016 campaign in mind. At the very end, Hillary Clinton's entourage, ahead of the polls, had spent on advertising in Texas and had invested a million dollars to encourage the campaign. participation in Missouri and Indiana.
Hillary Clinton's running mate, Tim Kaine, had even visited Utah, a state that has only voted once for a Democratic tandem since 1952.
However, during this period, Hillary Clinton herself did not visit Wisconsin. In fact, the Democratic candidate did not set foot in the campaign in this state considered part of the
democrat blue wall. On November 8, 2016, Donald Trump won by a slim lead.
This year Camp Biden is hoping for a different scenario.
We can't be complacent, the truth is Donald Trump can still win this race, campaign manager Jen O’Malley Dillon recently wrote to activists in a note obtained by the Washington post.
Even if 30 million Americans have already voted, the entourage of the Democratic candidate wants to prevent, faced with Joe Biden's advance in voting intentions, some supporters do not come to the polls, while the president can always count on a loyal basis.
Over the past month, as I travel across the country, as many Republican and Democratic activists have told me they don't trust the polls, citing the 2016 experience.
In the final sprint, it is perhaps more the travel and investments of Donald Trump and Joe Biden that will be revealing of the dynamics of the race, and the mood of the troops.