Biden holds virtual round table, rally in Wisconsin

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MILWAUKEE, Wis. (WMTV) - Former Vice President and presidential candidate Joe Biden has been using his computer to campaign during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Presidential candidate Joe Biden has been using technology to continue his campaign around the country. A UW-System expert explains the pros and cons of this sort of virtual campaign trail during COVID-19.

On Wednesday, Biden held a round table in La Crosse, and a campaign rally in Milwaukee; both events were online only.

"People like to see their candidates, even when they're a candidate for president, especially in swing states like Wisconsin," University of Wisconsin-Whitewater Emeritus Professor Richard Haven said.

Haven added that in a normal political race, a politician’s success is based mostly from the balance between in person visits with rallies and popularity on social media platforms.

"We have two candidates who are in their seventies, they're not young bucks and they're facing some situations where they're not quite comfortable facing the technology,” Haven said. “Let's see how they do as they become more virtually savvy with setting up virtual campaigns."

Haven said if coronavirus drags out, it'll come down to who perfects the new political platform.

"They've got to find ways to get to people that makes those who are watching, or a part of the interaction say, 'that was special,'" Haven said.

The former Communications Dean went on to explain that there are pros and cons to campaigning online.

Haven said candidates can target their audience better, receive an immediate response to a message, and staying in one place saves time and money. However, there are some drawbacks.

"I'm not sure that a virtual campaign is as effective in motivating people to either get out and vote or to work on a campaign,” Haven said. “And you won't get the same kind of news coverage from a planned virtual campaign meeting like in La Crosse and as we'll see in Milwaukee as you would with a live appearance."

NBC15 News reached out to Dane County Republicans to see if the group is doing anything similar on a local level.

"Things are much more lock step right now,” Chair Scott Grabins said. “We don't have the bandwidth to think about, 'how do we campaign and how do we introduce candidates?’ Because right now, we've got to get those signatures."

Grabins said local Republicans are making plans for virtual meetings with candidates, in the coming months. However, first they need to get those in person, or “wet” signatures from the community to put those candidates on the ballot.