Anti-Trump Lincoln Project to unleash Facebook army to get out the vote

President Donald Trump in East Room of the White House in Washington.

Leah Millis | Reuters

A super PAC led by a group of “Never Trump” Republicans is planning to unleash a Facebook grassroots army in its latest effort to erode support for President Donald Trump. 

The Lincoln Project on Friday will launch the new initiative, The Lincoln Project Digital Coalition, or TLPDC, according to the group’s spokesman, Keith Edwards. 

The plan, according to Edwards, is to have thousands of Lincoln Project Facebook members reach out to Republican voters who have previously backed Trump to try to persuade them to vote for Democratic nominee Joe Biden. They have over 50,000 members on Facebook, he added. 

Similar to the PAC’s political advertisements, it plans to target GOP voters in the states of Arizona, Texas, Florida, North Carolina and Pennsylvania. The digital push comes as in-person get-out-the-vote efforts in both parties have been largely sidelined due to the coronavirus pandemic.  

“We maintain an email list, but Facebook groups operate as our central hubs or ‘virtual campaign offices,’ because they allow us to moderate participants, creating a more constructive gathering place,” Edwards told CNBC. “Within those Facebook groups, we share our ads first, paired with data-backed talking points. Trump’s support is strongest on Facebook, so given our target audience are Republicans, Facebook needs to lead our TLPDC efforts.” 

Trump has had a strong presence on Facebook since he ran for president in 2016. Trump has spent over $140 million on Facebook and Google advertising since the 2018 congressional midterms, according to data collected by the nonprofit Acronym.

The group looks to launch TLPDC on Friday after a Zoom briefing with volunteers and Mike Madrid, a co-founder of The Lincoln Project, who was previously a political director for the California State Republican Party. Others who founded the group include Steve Schmidt, the leader of the late Sen. John McCain’s 2008 run for president, and Jennifer Horn, the former chair of the New Hampshire Republican Party. 

So far, the PAC has spent at least $13 million attacking Trump, according to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics. Biden and the Democratic National Committee raised a record-shattering $364 million in August. 

The latest surveys suggest that The Lincoln Project has a long road ahead of it in persuading Republican voters to abandon Trump. A Gallup poll shows Trump’s approval rating among Republicans at 90% and among independents at 39%. 

Biden, for his part, has been regularly picking up high-profile endorsements from both Republicans and independent leaders. Reuters reported on Thursday that nearly 100 GOP and independent leaders planned to back Biden. 

Biden is currently ahead of Trump by 7 percentage points, according to Real Clear Politics’ national polling average. 

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