But general elections are different. As nominee, Trump won’t be concentrating on states one at a time. A national effort requires “a professional apparatus that’s a complement to the campaign behind his performances,” says Scott Reed, the chief political adviser to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Reed was campaign manager for nominee Bob Dole in 1996. Trump may view the Republican consultant class skeptically, but he’ll need to tap into it for a field operation and policy development team.
North Carolina, a must-win for a Republican nominee, is a state in which Trump would have to deploy a strong organization. He “won the North Carolina primary with very little ground game and virtually no radio or TV,” says GOP strategist Marc Rotterman. “To win in the fall, Team Trump is going to have to bulk up its efforts. Hillary Clinton is already hiring some of the folks who worked in North Carolina for Obama in ’08 and ’12. That team was highly effective.”
And Trump can’t rely on the media to continue treating him like the crown prince of candidates. “He took the TV ratings model and turned it into turnout,” Reed says. That was impressive. But against Hillary, he’ll discover what liberal bias does to Republican candidates. He won’t like the way it puts him on permanent defense.
A bigger problem is the absence of party unity. Trump has summoned Republicans to “unify,” as if they’re obligated to line up behind him. Not a chance. Trump must woo them by changing his tune on policies conservatives, among others, detest.