Does Trump have a ground game?

posted at 5:21 pm on January 6, 2016 by Ed Morrissey

Conventional wisdom based on campaign spending has observers very skeptical about Donald Trump’s get-out-the-vote efforts in the early primary states. Most of Trump’s public efforts have been focused on personal appearances and free media from coverage of his controversial statements — and that’s been enough to propel him to the top of media polls for months. The expectation, as the contests in Iowa and New Hampshire rapidly approach, has been that Trump’s broad appeal and media-heavy approach won’t translate into voter turnout.

Yesterday evening, Ken Vogel and Darren Samuelsohn threw a little cold water on those assumptions. Jazz noted this story earlier today, but it’s worth taking a closer look at it and sussing it out a bit more. While questions about Trump’s organization still remain, he has definitely taken an interest in acquiring the data needed for effective GOTV, the two reported at Politico:

The team is led by two low-profile former Republican National Committee data strategists, Matt Braynard and Witold Chrabaszcz, and includes assistance from the political data outfit L2, according to multiple sources familiar with the effort. The data push is focused on integrating information Trump has collected, through his campaign website and at voter rallies, on nontraditional or unregistered supporters. It also includes commercial data obtained from the RNC and other sources, in an effort to mobilize voters in key early states, the sources said.

Trump’s campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, who has significant experience in voter registration, declined to comment on the data program. “We don’t discuss internal procedures; however, Mr. Trump has been underestimated through every step of this campaign, to many people’s demise,” said Lewandowski, who ran a pilot registration project for Americans for Prosperity in 2014. …

And, while the extent of the campaign’s data program remains unclear, it’s likely less robust than those built by the more traditional campaigns of his rivals, including Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush, who have combined to spend tens of millions of dollars on data.

But the very existence of the Trump data program undermines the assumption that his campaign is uninterested in ― or unaware of ― the basic technological infrastructure needed to identify and mobilize voters. Such tools, used so effectively by Barack Obama during his two presidential campaigns, could be especially critical for Trump as he seeks to increase turnout among new or untraditional GOP voters.

Full disclosure: L2 was gracious enough to allow me to access some of their data for research on my upcoming book. In fact, I met an L2 rep at an AFP event in the spring by chance, who made me the offer; they are serious about marketing their services. Their data is equally serious. Most of what I needed was higher-level demographics and neighborhood mapping, so I didn’t need to access their granular data, which is what Trump is paying to access, but I saw enough to know that they have a serious data set. If Trump is doing his own data collection on the ground, L2 would be able to provide a significant framework for use in GOTV efforts.

That still depends on organization, though, and this is where it gets a little murky. Those efforts cost money to put people and other resources on the ground, and so far Trump hasn’t spent a lot of it … at least not through the end of the third quarter. His fourth-quarter spending might have more evidence of building a GOTV infrastructure, but that’s pretty late in the game, too. That may be an issue when it comes to making use of the RNC’s voter data, to which Team Trump only gained access in the past few weeks, and only on an agreement that Trump would support the eventual nominee. Trump’s team may have the necessary skills to make use of that data in a short period of time, but it won’t be easy to organize that and the resources necessary to exploit it fully.

Clearly, though, the Trump campaign takes it seriously now, even if it took them a while to do so. (Vogel noted that the RNC made the offer to share data in June, but Trump didn’t pursue it.) That means assumptions that Trump plans to win solely on a 30,000-foot basis have reached their expiration date. It still leaves the question of whether Trump has invested enough in infrastructure to turn out the diffident, occasional primary voters that seem to have formed a significant part of his base. The answer to that will be found in part in the next quarterly reports, but mostly in the caucuses of Iowa and the ballot stations of New Hampshire. Overall, though, I agree with Jazz — don’t sell Trump short on the basis of organization.


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L2 was gracious enough to allow me to access some of their data for research on my upcoming book.

Page after page, of Ed being shocked and surprised.

DFCtomm on January 6, 2016 at 5:29 PM

No, he DOESN’T have a ground game. He doesn’t allow people to sit on the ground in kumbaya, socialist-progressive drum circles.

He has a filled-to-overflowing-arena game.

fred5678 on January 6, 2016 at 5:30 PM

OK Ed… Time to either commit Harry Kary… Or reverse your position and climb on the Pain Train (AKA the Trump bandwagon)… The wall is approaching at 900 miles per hour, can you pull a Backaroo Banzi and go through the mountain, or are you about to become bug splat????

oscarwilde on January 6, 2016 at 5:31 PM

Overall, though, I agree with Jazz — don’t sell Trump short on the basis of organization.

There is plenty of ground level anecdotal evidence coming on a first person basis via Twitter and other social media stating Trump’s people have been intentionally doing an “under the radar” approach to putting their resources in place.

Which, if you are the person most hated by the GOPe, is a damn smart thing to do.

Anything happening “out in the open” is going to be sabotaged by your opponents people at every possible opportunity.

So … yes, please keep underestimating Trump and fanning the flames of your delusions those of you who keep chanting, “They don’t know what they are doing. They don’t know what they are doing. They don’t know what they are doing.”

PolAgnostic on January 6, 2016 at 5:32 PM

The guy’s not a billionaire because he’s stupid, Ed.

Magicjava on January 6, 2016 at 5:32 PM

OK Ed… Time to either commit Harry Kary… Or reverse your position and climb on the Pain Train (AKA the Trump bandwagon)… The wall is approaching at 900 miles per hour, can you pull a Backaroo Banzi and go through the mountain, or are you about to become bug splat????

oscarwilde on January 6, 2016 at 5:31 PM

Oh… and yes, in my personal opinion Ed is voting for Bug Splat…

oscarwilde on January 6, 2016 at 5:32 PM

Another view on this.

fred5678 on January 6, 2016 at 5:33 PM

Trump supporters need no organization or central command to mobilize and act.

It’s a function of strong belief and free-flowing communication.

The GOPe and the media kingmakers are being bypassed.

Trump supporters don’t need robocalls and doorknocks to motivate them to vote.

Younggod on January 6, 2016 at 5:34 PM

So … yes, please keep underestimating Trump and fanning the flames of your delusions those of you who keep chanting, “They don’t know what they are doing. They don’t know what they are doing. They don’t know what they are doing.”

PolAgnostic on January 6, 2016 at 5:32 PM

Don’t forget the “Those Howler Monkeys are throwing feces again”…

oscarwilde on January 6, 2016 at 5:34 PM

Of course there’s no ground game. Trump’s a buffoon. A stupid buffoon. A stupid bankruptcy prone buffoon. If he had put his inheritance in a stock market index fund he’d be a trillionaire right now.

Fenris on January 6, 2016 at 5:35 PM

This is the type of story Hot Air was ignoring months ago.

This is more recent.

This is months old.

Joseph K on January 6, 2016 at 5:35 PM

Trump shouldn’t even mess with that crap. But it makes these people in the politician services industry happy that they can at least say Trump used some of their services so if he becomes president their existence is justified for another cycle. They’ll warm to him if he starts spreading his money around. His press will improve much. He should just put the whole industry in the dirt by winning without their assistance.

Buddahpundit on January 6, 2016 at 5:36 PM

This is the type of story Hot Air was ignoring months ago.

This is more recent.

This is months old.

Joseph K on January 6, 2016 at 5:35 PM

Well, after all: they were understandably dazzled and blinded by the glamour of the unstoppable Jeb!, Christie and Rubio juggernauts, at the time. ;)

Kent18 on January 6, 2016 at 5:41 PM

Buddahpundit on January 6, 2016 at 5:36 PM

I’m told you can pick up copies of Team Romney’s ORCA software for $9.99 at the Wal-Mart discount bin.

Joseph K on January 6, 2016 at 5:41 PM

President Donald J. Trump

get used to it

Garyinaz66 on January 6, 2016 at 5:42 PM

I noticed they are doing interviews, albeit non-political with his wife. The front runner status is forming.

Oil Can on January 6, 2016 at 5:42 PM

Who cares about the soulless Trump.

Trump is so soulless that he stopped medical insurance to his disabled infant nephew out of spite…..why Trump supporters actually think he gives a crap about them other than to win is ridiculous.

Trump doesn’t give a damn about his supporters/sycophants and will lie and/or forget all campaign promises to them if he wins.

sheryl on January 6, 2016 at 5:42 PM

Trump has a ground game as far as a plan to defeat the gridlock and bureaucracy and pc mavins that will try to thwart his deportation plan:

Donald Trump plans to bypass courts when deporting illegals:

http://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2015/11/donald_trump_plans_to_bypass_courts_when_deporting_illegals.html

Here’s the deal. That’s what we need. Not someone that p-foots around with legalize and delays as he consults with the big GOP-E donors. Just do it: deport ’em, and remove the anchor babies too. That’s the ground game that matters.

And removing the anchor babies won’t need legislation or court approval. Because Trump will already have the authority to deport, and an anchor baby will be asked whether they want to be fosterized or stay with their parents who are being deported. That’s the yugest problem that we never thought we’d ever be able to solve .. and the anchor babies in combo with the legalized adult illegals would soon turn TX blue and CA red (communist).

Here is an outstanding article out yesterday telling how Trump is single-highhandedly defeating insidious political correctness:

http://www.americanthinker.com/articles/2016/01/what_the_cultural_and_political_establishments_cant_grasp_about_donald_trump.html

anotherJoe on January 6, 2016 at 5:44 PM

Better ground game than Iowa and Michigan State combined.

RickB on January 6, 2016 at 5:46 PM

Trump supporters need no organization or central command to mobilize and act.

It’s a function of strong belief and free-flowing communication.

The GOPe and the media kingmakers are being bypassed.

Trump supporters don’t need robocalls and doorknocks to motivate them to vote.

Younggod on January 6, 2016 at 5:34 PM

I’ve actually been getting telepathic messages form the Trump campaign. Of course, I hear a lot of different voices in my head. Even heard Jim Morrison talk to me once.

Walter L. Newton on January 6, 2016 at 5:48 PM

I’ve actually been getting telepathic messages form the Trump campaign. Of course, I hear a lot of different voices in my head. Even heard Jim Morrison talk to me once.

Walter L. Newton on January 6, 2016 at 5:48 PM

Was he singing “When You’re Strange”?

Fenris on January 6, 2016 at 5:54 PM

Was he singing “When You’re Strange”?

Fenris on January 6, 2016 at 5:54 PM

Whiskey Bar.

Walter L. Newton on January 6, 2016 at 5:56 PM

Yes, and the Clinton Crime Syndicate is paying for it!

/weedisgoodbutheroinisbetter

ShainS on January 6, 2016 at 5:57 PM

I’ve actually been getting telepathic messages form the Trump campaign. Of course, I hear a lot of different voices in my head. Even heard Jim Morrison talk to me once.

Walter L. Newton on January 6, 2016 at 5:48 PM

Just wait until Ted Kaczynski starts talking to you.

RickB on January 6, 2016 at 5:58 PM

This is the type of story Hot Air was ignoring months ago.

This is more recent.

This is months old.

Joseph K on January 6, 2016 at 5:35 PM


What?

You are saying Hot Air IGNORES reality?

“I am shocked! Shocked, I tell you!”

PolAgnostic on January 6, 2016 at 6:00 PM

Whiskey Bar.

Walter L. Newton on January 6, 2016 at 5:56 PM

Forgotten classic. I had to look it up on youtube to remind myself. They don’t make ’em like they used to.

Fenris on January 6, 2016 at 6:01 PM

Has a robo-call or a door knocker ever actually convinced someone to vote for a candidate that they would not have otherwise?

I know this is a cherished belief in the Church of How We’ve Always Done Things, but I’m a skeptic.

I think the situation “on the ground” is not what the political professionals believe it is.

Dolce Far Niente on January 6, 2016 at 6:02 PM

Doomed!

Dick Richard on January 6, 2016 at 6:03 PM

Does Trump have a ground game?

Did General Patton have a ground game?
Did Michael Vick Have a ground game?
Did King Leonidas have a ground game?
Did Genghis Khan have a ground game?
Did Alexander the Great have a ground game?

LegendHasIt on January 6, 2016 at 6:03 PM

President Donald J. Trump

get used to it

Garyinaz66 on January 6, 2016 at 5:42 PM

He’s been president for 7 and a half years already.

Alberta_Patriot on January 6, 2016 at 6:04 PM

“Conventional Wisdom says that…”
Translation: Inbred parasitic professional campaign consultants, who feed information to journalists, who passively regurgitate the same information as fact.

Start working on the phrases “President Trump” and “President Cruz”, establishmentarians. More than likely, you’ll be using one of them quite a bit after next November.

orangemtl on January 6, 2016 at 6:05 PM

Who cares about the soulless Trump.
sheryl on January 6, 2016 at 5:42 PM

Yeah, He doesn’t even speak French.
Noo la la!

LegendHasIt on January 6, 2016 at 6:07 PM

Trump isn’t your typical politician.

It’s like defining how much they need in the budget for something….they find ways to milk the project and drive up costs so they can always claim they need more money.

Other people’s money.

If Trump’s spending his own money, it’s far more likely that he will choose to use it effectively and efficiently. More bang for the buck.

lineholder on January 6, 2016 at 6:09 PM

“I am shocked! Shocked, I tell you!”

PolAgnostic on January 6, 2016 at 6:00 PM

Here is your winnings Captain Renault… <— Insert evil laughter here…

oscarwilde on January 6, 2016 at 6:14 PM

I’ve actually been getting telepathic messages form the Trump campaign. Of course, I hear a lot of different voices in my head. Even heard Jim Morrison talk to me once.

Walter L. Newton on January 6, 2016 at 5:48 PM

When “The End” crackles throught the static turn yourself in.

Younggod on January 6, 2016 at 6:25 PM

Who cares about the soulless Trump.

sheryl on January 6, 2016 at 5:42 PM

“He won’t return my texts.”

Younggod on January 6, 2016 at 6:26 PM

LegendHasIt on January 6, 2016 at 6:07 PM

Hillary thanks you for your support. Trump is going to lose to her, he already is and the attack ads haven’t even begun.

Stopping medical insurance to his disabled infant nephew will be used over and over again.

Trump’s dirty dealing, Mafia connections will be in ads constantly.

All of Trump’s wives/sex scandals will on the daily news.

Trump will be neutered by Hillary just like Obama neutered him at one of the press party’s right in front of him.

Trump will never win the general election which will be ironic for all these so called “anti-establishment” Republicans who are supporting him when they are responsible for putting into office the most establishment of establishment candidates in the White House.

Again Hillary thanks you for you support. Trump 2016 = Perot 1992, deal with it.

sheryl on January 6, 2016 at 6:27 PM

sheryl on January 6, 2016 at 5:42 PM

.
You misspelled Obama… and Hillary.

ExpressoBold on January 6, 2016 at 6:28 PM

“He won’t return my texts.”Younggod on January 6, 2016 at 6:26 PM

Trump the Twitter troll, not interested.

sheryl on January 6, 2016 at 6:29 PM

The GOP basically always purchased the cart before they got the horse. The best recent example is the Jeb campaign.

Trump has the horse, now he is getting the cart.

William Eaton on January 6, 2016 at 6:29 PM

ExpressoBold on January 6, 2016 at 6:28 PM

Both thank you for your support of Perot [cough] Trump.

Bill needed Perot to get into the White House and Hillary now needs Trump to get into the White House.

Trump is going to lose 50 states, deal with it.

Nobody is going to elect a person who jokes about dating his daughter because she has a great body.

Nobody is going to elect a person who stopped medical insurance to a disabled infant nephew.

Trump is a joke your just falling for it, deal with it.

sheryl on January 6, 2016 at 6:33 PM

I can imagine a Trump ground worker…

Knock on the door: I am with the Trump campaign, here is some lit and we hope you support him, who are you now considering?

Resident: I am actually leaning towards Cruz…

Trumper: You lying sack of shlt, are you f’n crazy? Cruz isn’t even eligible, and he is a liar like you. What are you, some sort of GOPe operative, working to undermine America…We want to make American great again, but we can’t with lazy, low energy fools like you.

Resident: UMmmm, okay, thanks, me and my wife will look over the info.

Trumper: Your wife? That fat slob? Don’t have her bleed on the literature…besides, with a face like hers, she shouldn’t even be voting.

Resident: Thanks, you seem to be having a bad day, btw, love your hair…

right2bright on January 6, 2016 at 6:36 PM

Again Hillary thanks you for you support. Trump 2016 = Perot 1992, deal with it.
sheryl on January 6, 2016 at 6:27 PM

Yeah, Your weaselly incompetent pandering pseudo-conservative backstabber is the only ‘electable one’. Just like last time.

And just because I enjoy pointing out how vapid you have been historically here at Hot Air, how your vote goes to whichever non-democrat puts a tingle in your lady parts, does not mean that I’m a Trump lover.

Deal With It.

LegendHasIt on January 6, 2016 at 6:37 PM

Trump has the horse, now he is getting the cart.

William Eaton on January 6, 2016 at 6:29 PM

Hope the cart runs on ethanol…

right2bright on January 6, 2016 at 6:37 PM

After sussing it out with friends over cold beers – 4 out of 5 plan on voting for Trump..the other guy is a low info voter and doesn’t follow politics..

celt on January 6, 2016 at 6:38 PM

Hope the cart runs on ethanol…

right2left on January 6, 2016 at 6:37 PM

Don’t worry, your boy is on it.

Joseph K on January 6, 2016 at 6:42 PM

Trump is a joke your just falling for it, deal with it.

sheryl on January 6, 2016 at 6:33 PM

.
You actually did misspell you’re. I like it when you get all passionate like this. ¡El Yeb! still has no chance, though.

ExpressoBold on January 6, 2016 at 6:45 PM

Trump is going to lose 50 states, deal with it.

sheryl on January 6, 2016 at 6:33 PM

Mitt is very handsome, intelligent, attractive man. He looks like Matthew Fox’s, from Lost, distinguished, older brother. Plus it’s kinda sexy that he can speak French…..ooh la la!

sheryl on January 16, 2008 at 11:06 PM

Joseph K on January 6, 2016 at 6:46 PM

Hope the cart runs on ethanol…

right2left on January 6, 2016 at 6:37 PM

Don’t worry, your boy is on it.

Joseph K on January 6, 2016 at 6:42 PM

He’s a Boobio girl.

RickB on January 6, 2016 at 6:48 PM

right2bright on January 6, 2016 at 6:36 PM

.
Don’t quit your day job. Writing comedy dialog is not your thing… trust me!

ExpressoBold on January 6, 2016 at 6:48 PM

Florida say he “has America’s pulse“.

Schadenfreude on January 6, 2016 at 6:59 PM

I am not worried about Trump’s ground game or his ability to plan smartly and organize well.

And I sure as hell am not worried about his supporters and how motivated they are to vote. When one candidate is drawing 10,000 to 20,000 at personal appearances every single night (even if outlets like Hot Air do not ever acknowledge the size or even the occurrence of these rallies) and none of his opponents in either party can draw 1/15th of that, it’s clear the votes will be there for Trump, whether the wishcasters are ever willing to acknowledge it or not.

Right Mover on January 6, 2016 at 7:02 PM

Ed, so far there is no GOTV for Trump in Iowa. There is some sort of Trump presence in S.C. None in N.H. Frankly, it may be too late for Iowa and their early caucus for Trump. Political types say they see nothing in N.H., yet. S.C. may be a try out for a Trump ground game. But to get the people to run it means Trump has to start now, especially for super Tuesday(ie:SEC primary). Ed, you have every right to doubt the guy. Until we see GOTV from Trump, his odds of winning are slim. But Trump is a excellent mass market specialist. It will be interesting to see what his team does with RNC data. He could come up with something novel that could bypass the traditional GOTV. I doubt it, but you never know. Also, Once Trump get past S.C. he runs into Rubio’s GOTV along with the building Cruz GOTV, so it’s going to be tough for Trump, even with the cover the MSM bigs are providing. Still, it’s early. Good post Ed.

flackcatcher on January 6, 2016 at 7:07 PM

Hillary thanks you for your support. Trump is going to lose to her, he already is and the attack ads haven’t even begun.

Stopping medical insurance to his disabled infant nephew will be used over and over again.

Trump’s dirty dealing, Mafia connections will be in ads constantly.

All of Trump’s wives/sex scandals will on the daily news.

Trump will be neutered by Hillary just like Obama neutered him at one of the press party’s right in front of him.

Trump will never win the general election which will be ironic for all these so called “anti-establishment” Republicans who are supporting him when they are responsible for putting into office the most establishment of establishment candidates in the White House.

Again Hillary thanks you for you support. Trump 2016 = Perot 1992, deal with it.

sheryl on January 6, 2016 at 6:27 PM

Hi MNJG. You forgot to use the word “clown”

LOL you giant douchenozzle

Sugarbuzz on January 6, 2016 at 7:13 PM

Ballotpedia for Donald Trump

IIRC Trump was one of only 2 Republican candidates qualifying to be on state ballots. Gotta be on the ballot to be voted for. He has a lifetime of branding and name recognition. If the ballot is in alphabetical order that could be a disadvantage as voters have to look for him. I would imagine he could emphasize transportation to the polls to maximize voter turn out. He also needs to create a sense of urgency…because he is doing well poll wise he still needs turn out. So I believe the convincing has occurred now the motivation and means take precedence.

nuclearoptional on January 6, 2016 at 7:34 PM

nuclearoptional on January 6, 2016 at 7:34 PM

re: Trump’s ‘ground game,’ all I can say is: :x

:)

jersey taxpayer on January 6, 2016 at 7:36 PM

Wouldn’t we be able to see a strong ground game as an increase in an increase in new registrations?

Any evidence of that?

ChrisL on January 6, 2016 at 7:43 PM

ChrisL on January 6, 2016 at 7:43 PM
No. But these two(Iowa N.H.) are different from most states. Iowa’s primary is where the bulk of delegates are decided, not its caucus. I forget when it’s held. N.H. is an open primary, one of the few left in the united states. Iowa caucus is important, in which a candidate(like Cruz) draws his ground game from the caucus supporters.(Or the other way around too) N.H. Well, its politics are weird, mostly for the layout of the state. Plus it is still too early for any kind of movement. Give it three months, then we might get some kind of answer.

flackcatcher on January 6, 2016 at 8:05 PM

sheryl

All that blood loss is causing you to lose your mind.

xblade on January 6, 2016 at 8:05 PM

sheryl on January 6, 2016 at 6:27 PM

We tried it your way eight years ago, with Juan McCain. Didn’t work.

We tried it your way again four years ago, with Mittens. Didn’t work.

No one’s listening anymore.

Kent18 on January 6, 2016 at 8:26 PM

Trump has the horse, now he is getting the cart.

William Eaton on January 6, 2016 at 6:29 PM

Hope the cart runs on ethanol…

right2bright on January 6, 2016 at 6:37 PM

Some folks just can’t face reality. Repeat after me: Trump has the horse. The horse pulls the cart. See? He has no need for ethanol.

MaggiePoo on January 6, 2016 at 9:45 PM

Trump may be a lot of things, but incompetent isn’t one of them.

You may not like his personality but he’s a smart administrator, and one of the things he’s good at is identifying talented people and putting them to work for him.

This is a big part of what successful CEOs are good at. It’s how they get things done effectively and this is why I think he’d be a much better president than a lot of folks might think at first blush.

Trump may not know much about this kind of GOTV ground game election stuff, but you can be sure he’ll find someone who is VERY good at it and hire them.

Agent Cooper on January 7, 2016 at 11:48 AM