The Democratic National Convention (DNC) is well underway, and while Republicans are busy in Virginia, Democrat delegates and the Democratic Party of Virginia seem to be taking a break from political action this week.
That’s according to Ben Tribbett and Danny Barefoot, two political consultants who work with the Democratic Party in Virginia.
When asked what Democrat delegates were doing this week during the DNC, Tribbett said that delegates are “all watching online like everybody else.”
Tribbett mentioned a delegate he spoke with was “just going to all the online sessions.”
Danny Barefoot, a partner with Democratic ad agency Anvil Strategies, echoed this thought. “With it being all-virtual and with the special session, I think folks aren’t plugged in,” he said.
There don’t seem to be any plans among either Democrat delegates or the Democratic Party of Virginia for political action in the near future, either.
“I haven’t heard of anything in particular that they’re organizing viz a viz what normally goes on,” said Tribbett. “This year’s a little different. There’s no canvassing. There’s a lot more phone-banking. People are having to engage in a different way because we have a pandemic going on. I think events are going to come more through the state party than through our delegates, but I haven’t seen the state party doing a whole lot.”
Barefoot pointed to the COVID-19 pandemic as a possible reason behind the seeming absence of activity among Democrats. When asked why Democrats wouldn’t be canvassing anytime soon, he said it was “100% because of the pandemic.”
Another possible reason for the apparent lack of action is a new role the executive director of the Democratic Party of Virginia Andrew Whitley recently took on.
In addition to working with Virginia’s Democratic Party, Whitley is also Virginia’s Get Out the Vote (GOTV) Director for Joe Biden’s Campaign.
Whitley started that position on August 15. As of press time, he is also still serving as the executive director for Virginia’s Democratic Party.
“It’s highly unusual that the state party director has two jobs,” said Tribbett. “I don’t remember that being the case in 20-plus years.”
“I think that speaks to the level of engagement that the party is planning. If they’re not even planning to have a full-time executive director that’s working on issues, then really, there’s not going to be a whole lot going on in Virginia this year.
“You wouldn’t do that if you were taking Virginia seriously as a swing state.”
Barefoot said that there hasn’t been a lot of planned action among Democrats because the Democratic Party is “unified.”
“I think it makes sense,” he said. “The party is unified. I don’t think there’s a lot of distance between the Senate and House and Biden. We have folks plugged in both in Virginia and nationally with the Biden campaign. I think this is the most unified I’ve ever seen a ticket since my work began in 2004. Everyone is happy to be associated with Biden.”
Barefoot also said that based on polling he’s seen and conducted, “the party is so much more unified than it’s been in any other cycle.”
Speaking to dissension against the Biden-Harris ticket seen in places like Twitter, Barefoot thinks only a small group of Democrats aren’t on board with Biden.
“I think social media elevates the handful of people that aren’t unified and gives them a voice that they wouldn’t have previously had,” Barefoot said. “In 2008, when we had a landslide win, about one-fourth of Hilary Clinton’s supporters voted for John McCain. Right now, we’re seeing single digits of the Bernie people saying that they’re voting for Trump or not voting.”
“If you dig into the data, the party is unified.”
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Sam Medley is a journalist at The Virginia Star and Star News Network. You can follow Sam on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected].
Background Photo “Joe Biden and Jill Biden” by Anthony Quintano. CC BY 2.0.