Donald Trump has turned conventional politics on its head, as his supporters gleefully like to point out.
But like it or not, Trumpkins, there are some things in presidential politics that never, ever change:
1.) You need money — lots of it — to win; and
2.) You need a vast, national organization to work toward one goal: get your supporters to the polls in greater numbers than your opponent.
As for the first, Trump got a late start but he looks like he could raise about $350 million, according to experts. That’s about one third what Clinton will raise but enough to be competitive.
But where Trump’s campaign has been strangely — inexplicably — lacking is in building an organization to challenge Clinton where it matters most — at street level, on the ground where elections are won or lost.
With great fanfare, Trump’s campaign opened a New Jersey office on May 3 in Edison, which attracted a crowd of more than 1,000 supporters, according to a local news account.
After two messages left at the number of Trump’s New Jersey headquarters were not returned, POLITICO visited the nondescript suburban complex listed as its address.
That office no longer exists.
There were few signs the Trump campaign ever occupied the now-vacant office space — save for several peeled-off Trump campaign stickers visible through the front door.
Trump’s latest FEC filing shows the campaign last made a rent payment on May 11 for the Edison property. The campaign vacated the office at least a month ago, according to two employees of the paper company located next door.
It’s much worse in the swing state of Florida, where Hillary Clinton has opened 25 regional offices. Today, Trump has only one.
The bottom line: Trump has no national campaign.He is apparently going to ask the Republican National Committee to open field offices in all 50 states, but that monumental task should have been done months ago.
But no worries, says Trump. He “doesn’t know” if he needs a get-out-the-vote operation.
The network’s [Fox] Eric Bolling asked if the ongoing tension between Trump’s campaign and the Republican Party put at risk Trump’s access to the party’s turnout systems and data.
Trump’s response, as transcribed by TPM:
We are gonna have tremendous turnout from the evangelicals, from the miners, from the people that make our steel, from people that are getting killed by trade deals, from people that have been just decimated, from the military who are with Trump 100 percent. From our vets because I’m going to take care of the vets.
I don’t know that we need to get out the vote. I think people that really want to vote, they’re gonna just get up and vote for Trump. And we’re going to make America great again.
The author of the article, Philip Bump, explains just how delusional that thinking is:
For the most part, voting is a pain. Some people sign up to have a polling place located in the garage of their suburban homes; those folks have it figured out. For most people, though, voting requires heading out to a random church or school you visit once every other November and waiting in line for your chance to pick which county supervisor you think will do the best job. When it’s raining or if you are unimpressed with the candidates on the ballot or if you have to work a double shift, you’re very naturally less likely to vote.
This is why political campaigns put money and staff on the job of making sure people go to the polls. Some people will always vote, no matter what. A lot of people will probably vote — and they’re the ones that the campaigns will spend all day on Election Day bothering, checking polling places to see if they’ve voted already and showing up at their door — maybe even offering a ride! — if they haven’t.
Hillary Clinton will have virtually unlimited resources to drag people to the polls to vote. Her vast, intricate data operation will have already identified exactly who her supporters or potential supporters are, their addresses, their phone numbers, what time of day is best to call, and dozens of other facts that personalize the GOTV process.
Trump has nothing. Zero. Zilch. Nada. But his delusion that people will flock to the polls to vote for him because they are enraged citizens hell bent on taking it out on the establishment cannot be challenged.
I don’t know if his optimism is real or feigned. Perhaps the true nature of his situation is so horrible that he has embraced an alternative reality where the campaign is going well, he is universally loved, and his supporters will be pulled to the polls by the power of his personality.