Austin Communications
Political Consulting Media Affairs Crisis Management Curson & Austin Advertising Store Contact


Trump Campaign Needs Steeler-Like Ground Game

June 10, 2016

I'm surprised to learn that the Trump campaign is outsourcing its field operations and other campaign functions to the RNC. I suspect Trump feels he can effectively give big speeches around the country and give local and national press interviews and thus keep his appeal high among voters.

This might be half right but he's essentially throwing away his chances of winning in Virginia, Pennsylvania, Ohio, or Michigan.

Here's what will happen: The RNC may outsource the field activities and grassroots operations (as it did in 2012 for Mitt Romney) to companies and organizations that will likely hire inexperienced people who in turn will be charged with recruiting volunteers to canvass neighborhoods and key precincts. It's not a winning strategy.

It gives the Trump campaign virtually no chance in making inroads with African-American, Hispanic, young voters, Reagan Democrats, and Asian voting communities. This cannot be done with a national 'cable news' style effort like we saw in the primary. It takes grassroots knowledge from professionals who know where the "votes" are located, who know the opinion leaders, and have knowledge of the locals who control voting blocks in key state precincts.

Without this kind of strategy, Trump will lose these wards and precincts by astounding amounts, literally he will come of these voting precincts trailing by huge numbers, too great to be overcome from traditional Republican votes elsewhere.

One problem might be that those with access to Donald Trump might not understand this to be the case. Their political antenna tells them Trump doesn't need to raise much money and things like a good "ground game" is only marginally important and can be left to non-locals. They will find out how important such things are albeit they may find out too late. A general election is a far different strategic animal then a primary election. Fall elections are usually won by momentum produced late from a ground game in key states.

Consider this: the Pittsburgh Steelers enjoy a ground game during game week. Thousands of Pittsburgh area fans put yard signs in their lawn and wear black and gold throughout the week. This momentum and enthusiasm toward game day provides a spirit among fans that the Steelers can't lose. The same thing is needed to win a political campaign.

The Clinton campaign will flood the country with locals, and of course, they are doing the right thing by closing ranks. President Obama's main mission will be turning out African-American, Hispanic, Asian, and young voters. Hillary will handle the woman vote while her Vice Presidential pick will handle key swing states, most likely Virginia, for one.

It won't be pretty for Trump if he can't match this effort and apparently he has a long way to go.