Trump is either headed to the biggest win of all time or the biggest defeat of all time. Which is more likely? There's been another mini-panic (or not so mini depending on who you talk to) about the Trump campaign's ability to win in November. Contrasting columns in the New York Post illustrate the issue. Hillary Clinton will win by default according to Kyle Smith if as Michael Goodwin suggests he doesn't do everything in his power to turn things around:
How much does he want to win? Is there a limit, in money, discipline and humility, beyond which he refuses to go?I've been pleased to see Trump's message improve dramatically over the past week with focused, disciplined speeches on a whole range of vital issues. But that's not enough and neither are big crowds at rallies. If you don't organize in key states to make SURE your voters are registered and get to the polls you are at the mercy of a merciless Clinton machine that is experienced and ready to do whatever it takes to win.
The questions are urgent because Trump is on a path to defeat — and not just an ordinary one. He’s headed into a crushing landslide that would turn his name into a political punchline and make his brand synonymous with loser. He would join the failed nominees’ Hall of Shame — Barry Goldwater, George McGovern, Walter Mondale.
Trump now trails in all 11 states that Politico identifies as battleground states, some by double digits and some where he has fallen below 40 percent. He’s actually losing support, putting several reliable red states in play, and his electoral map is shrinking so fast that pollster Doug Schoen predicts that Hillary Clinton could get 400 electoral votes, far beyond the 270 needed.
I can't help recall how Eric and Ivanka Trump did not even vote for their father in the New York primary because they failed to register in time. I have no doubt that this situation has been rectified but it illustrates the point. You have very pro-Trump people across the country who may not have voted in recent elections. Who is going to make sure they register and then make sure they vote? It takes boots on the ground in key states to make that happen and Trump doesn't have those boots.
This is the lesson from 2008 and 2012 where Obama out organized both McCain and Romney in key states with field office and paid staff, not volunteers, to manage the get out the vote campaign. In April I raised the issue and cited specifics from 2012. But if you don't have time for that, just look at this chart from 2008:
What this means is that in a close race in a particular state Obama could win because he had identified who his supporters were and banked thousands of their votes in early voting. Romney didn't match those efforts and lost those key states.
But in 2012 Romney had many more offices with paid staff working than Trump does now. From Slate:
Mitt Romney entered June—after extinguishing Rick Santorum’s challenge from the right—he had more than a dozen offices open in Ohio and at least 89 paid staffersfor his national campaign. By November, Romney had opened nearly 300 offices nationwide and employed more than 400 people. Team Obama invested even more in offices and personnel, with nearly 800 field locations and over 900 paid staffers.Currently in Florida Trump has ONE office open. Plans are to open 25 but will that be soon enough? Hillary already has 12 offices up and running in the Sunshine State with more on the way. One GOP backer wondered: "Where the hell are they [Trump campaign]?"
How much staff has Donald Trump hired? At last count, the Trump campaign hasroughly 30 staffers nationwide. By comparison, Team Clinton has hired 50 people in Ohio alone. Even if it’s still early in the cycle, a typical campaign would have several senior staff members in place in most, if not all, contested states. Trump has close to none. And while the Republican National Committee has people on the ground in swing states and other vital areas, they’re focused on the entire ticket. Trump needs dedicated, professional help and he doesn’t have it. He seems to be waiting until July, at the earliest, to determine hiring and placement.
It's the same in Ohio. Hillary tweets 250 of her campaign workers at a training session. Trump's team could barely fill a phone booth.The Cincinnatti Enquirer reports:
In comparison, Clinton’s campaign has a big staff working closely with state and national Democratic groups. She has a dozen offices in Ohio, including three in Hamilton County, and her campaign recently tweeted a photo of about 250 paid Ohio staffers.In a June report, Trump's key organizer in Florida promised "We'll be able to execute by July 1. Mr. Trump insists on hard deadlines." If I was Trump I'd say YOU'RE FIRED! At this rate, the organization won't be in place before December.
Trump does have one field staffer covering Southwest Ohio: Dayton-based Missy Mae Walters, whose political activities have included anti-abortion activism and helping with the failed gubernatorial campaign of former Cincinnati Mayor Ken Blackwell. In the absence of a Trump campaign office in the region, a group of volunteers on Thursday opened their own office in Butler County.
Trump is counting on the Republican National Committee to take up the slack and they are doing that. They have offices and staff in place in key states but not on the level of the Democrats. And those offices are also dedicated to supporting other GOP candidates in those states. But still not matching the Dems effort.
Hillary is following the well executed game plan Obama employed in both 2008 and 2012. It would be a shocking disgrace if the GOP were not prepared AGAIN to counter this effort. But recall what Romney's chief political strategist said after the 2012 loss:
Rich Beeson, the Romney political director  said that only after the election did he realize what Obama was doing with so much manpower on the ground. Obama had more than 3,000 paid workers nationwide, compared with 500 for Romney, and hundreds of thousands of volunteers. “Now I know what they were doing with all the staffs and offices,” Beeson said. “They were literally creating a one-to-one contact with voters,” something that Romney did not have the staff to match.Field offices and boots on the ground, not big rallies, are the key to winning close elections. If we haven't learned that by now then we will LOSE BIG in November!
UPDATE: Early voting starts in September in some states (list).
UPDATE: Trump has positive trend in new voter registration. But note: "encouraging registration trends alone will be insufficient to carry Trump in must-win states like Pennsylvania."