As we prepare ourselves for the avalanche of data this evening, this late-breaking poll might provide some context for our expectations. Morning Consult surveyed almost 10,000 voters over the last three weeks and found that the ground game was won by Hillary Clinton’s campaign. According to their data, they may have been as effective as Barack Obama’s campaign.
Left unanswered is this question — will it matter?
While most voters (62 percent) said they were not contacted by either presidential campaign, more than twice as many voters said they were contacted by Clinton’s campaign (17 percent) than Trump’s (8 percent). Another 9 percent said they were contacted by both campaigns.
The data also shows that Clinton’s ground game is tracking with President Obama’s vaunted operation in 2008, when, according to the National Election Pool, 13 percent of voters said they’d heard from his campaign. Six percent that year said they heard from Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.).
In our exit poll, almost three out of 10 Democrats (29 percent) said they were contacted by Clinton’s campaign, compared with 16 percent of Republicans who said they heard from the Trump campaign. Independents were also twice as likely to hear from Clinton’s campaign (10 percent) as Trump’s (5 percent), and 12 percent said they heard from both campaigns.
That domination didn’t stay limited to the Democrats’ comfort zone, either:
Clinton’s campaign bested Trump’s in terms of voter contact in urban areas (26 percent to 7 percent), suburban areas (14 percent to 8 percent) and rural areas (11 percent to 8 percent) as well.
So … does this matter? Team Trump has said all along that they weren’t as concerned about traditional ground operations. They believed that the electorate wanted change, and that Trump himself was the change that would bring them to the polls. (Sound familiar?) If this poll is accurate, then they’d better hope that strategy pays off. If it doesn’t, well … then perhaps some of the reported turnout boosts in rural and suburban precincts today may not all be attributable to Trump.
The most surprising part of this is that Hillary managed to reach almost as many voters as Obama. That’s not the same as saying that she’s duplicated the Obama phenomenon, though. Obama put together a granular, ground-up approach that went well beyond contact numbers. So far we’ve seen little evidence of the kind of enthusiasm Obama generated in two election cycles coming from Hillary voters in 2016. But those contact numbers look pretty good otherwise, and previous experience shows it has an impact.