If lawn signs are any guide, Donald Trump will win Pennsylvania in a landslide. In and between Scranton and Bucks County, Pa., on Sunday, I counted more than 20 Donald Trump-Mike Pence signs plus a few bigger-than-average signs and one digital billboard. I saw precisely no Hillary Clinton-Tim Kaine signs; even Gary Johnson signs outnumbered Clinton’s.
But lawn signs are not a guide. Lawn signs are to elections what a slight cough is to a hypochondriac: Over-analyzed to the point of derangement and revealing precisely nothing.
What matters, and why I was in Scranton and Bucks County, is the ability of a campaign to get its voters to the polls. This is the fabled ground game, the field effort, the get-out-the vote, or GOTV, push. This is a realm where Clinton has been expected to outshine Trump for months, after Trump’s flaky efforts in the primary and avowed lack of interest in the general. Given that Democrats tend to vote less regularly than Republicans, Democrats have spent decades honing turnout operations that they supercharged with the Internet to elect Barack Obama to the White House twice. Republicans haven’t.
The margin between the two campaigns in their abilities to turn out voters, though, is narrower than I thought — at least in this critical area of the possibly critical state of Pennsylvania.