Biden campaign grows digital operation to contend with virtual trail

In a move to beef up its digital operation, Joe Biden‘s campaign announced new hires Tuesday as it continues to adapt to an almost entirely virtual campaign trail brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.

The four hires — whose collective experience includes digital work on the Democratic presidential campaigns of Kamala Harris, Pete Buttigieg and Hillary Clinton and online expertise from companies like Twitter and NowThis — will be devoted to online organizing, content and grassroots fundraising. The public health crisis has effectively halted traditional in-person campaigning, so Biden’s operation hopes to empower voters to organize from anywhere across the country, online and offline, working in tandem with organizers on the ground who are building relationships with voters.

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Clarke Humphrey, who previously worked on Clinton’s 2016 campaign, will act as the Biden campaign’s new deputy digital director for grassroots fundraising. The campaign’s new digital organizing director, Jose Nunez, worked in the same capacity for Harris’ campaign.

Additionally, the campaign is bringing on a digital chief of staff, Medha Raj, who will work across all facets of the digital department to streamline and coordinate how to maximize the impact of its digital outputs. Raj comes from Buttigieg’s campaign.

And Christian Tom, the new director of digital partnerships, will work on expanding Biden’s reach to different demographics by continuing to plan collaborations with influencers and different platforms, like the presumptive Democratic nominee’s economic speech that streamed on NowThis. He will lead an entire digital partnerships team, which will focus on bringing both Biden and surrogates in front of audiences that the campaign is not able to reach on its own.

The campaign initially struggled to gain footing against the Trump campaign’s competitive online presence, but the new staff indicate the campaign’s investment in its digital strategy. The hires come on the heels of its largest virtual fundraising event to date.

The online fundraiser held with former President Barack Obama on Tuesday raised $7.6 million from 175,000 grassroots donors, including 65,000 first-time donors, the campaign said. An additional $3.4 million was raised from big donors, rounding the total to $11 million, the campaign’s biggest fundraiser to date. The virtual event also generated 120,000 viewers, 10,000 volunteer sign-ups and 1,500 merchandise orders.

The campaign has tripled its online donor base since February, and more than 1 million new supporters have joined the campaign since the beginning of June, according to a Biden campaign aide.

Recently, as part of this expanding digital outreach, Biden partnered with several online influencers to participate in interviews on Instagram Live, including actress and talk show host Keke Palmer, Jerry Harris of Netflix’s docuseries “Cheer,” YouTuber Bethany Mota and dancer Allison Holker.