Hillary Clinton’s campaign has built a ground game in swing states that may be the largest in political history.
The Hill reports that Clinton’s field team is as large as a U.S. Army brigade, while Trump’s operations are hopelessly behind. Across 15 battleground states, the Clinton campaign is employing 5138 staffers, while Trump has hired 1409.
But it’s not just the numbers that are striking. It’s where those staffers are being used.
Trump’s campaign has shown little interest in investing in a ground operation.
National Republicans, independent of the Trump campaign, have plowed millions into building the sort of field team necessary to compete with Democrats, but new campaign finance reports show they are falling well short of Democrats.
Walters said Republicans also rely on more than 4,500 trained organizers, many of whom spend hours every week canvassing neighborhoods tracking down Republican votes. Some of those trained organizers receive stipends, reports filed with the Federal Election Commission show.
“The RNC’s significant and early investment in community organization and voter contact in key states across the country has placed our candidates in a strong position to win in November,” Walters said in an email last week. “We have created a historic ground game operation designed to identify and turn out voters who will elect Republicans up and down the ticket regardless if a person votes early, through absentee ballot or on Election Day.”
In critical swing states where Trump and Clinton are competing for electoral votes, the disparity is stark. The Ohio Democratic Party has 502 staffers on payroll. The state Republican Party paid just 104 people in its last payroll period.
More than 300 staffers were on the North Carolina Democratic Party’s payroll at the end of September. That’s three times the number of state Republican Party staffers on the ground.
In Nevada, where polls show a tight race, the state Republican Party employs 67 staffers. The state Democratic Party has several times that number, 240. Iowa Republicans, who hope to preserve Trump’s relatively strong poll numbers, have 32 staffers. The state Democratic Party has 206 paid staff.
In Pennsylvania, a must-win state for Trump’s campaign, state Republicans employ 62 total staff — and state Democrats have 508 people on payroll. Florida Democrats have 678 paid staffers, compared with 150 people who work for the Republican Party of Florida.
Polls also show Arizona, normally a reliably red state, is a closer contest than anticipated. The Clinton campaign said this week it would invest $2 million trying to win Arizona’s 10 electoral votes — and the state party reported paying 230 field staffers last month. By contrast, the Arizona Republican Party paid just 12 staff members.
How big a difference does a first-class get-out-the-vote operation make? Nationwide, the difference may be only a few million votes out of more than 60 million cast.
But a presidential race is 50 separate campaigns with only 10-15 states considered in play. In states where it is expected to be close — Ohio, Florida, Nevada, Virginia and a couple of others — the difference will be decisive. Hillary Clinton has a much better chance of winning close states because she has overwhelmed Trump with an army of paid staff and volunteers who will squeeze every single vote possible out of the electorate.
Of all the “might have beens” and “should have beens” that Republicans will moan about after the election, it will be the incomprehensibly stupid decision by the Trump campaign not to build the best field operation possible.