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Hullabaloo


Tuesday, August 09, 2016

 

In the trenches

by Tom Sullivan


Image: Library of Congress.

Eugene Robinson writes this morning that, based on Hillary Clinton's dominance in national polls, "if the election were held today it would be what is technically called a butt-kicking." Robinson continues:

Meanwhile, the implications of the recent polls are not lost on the GOP leadership. If Clinton defeats Trump soundly, Republicans probably will lose their majority in the Senate. But if she wins in a landslide, the party could lose control of the House as well.
What with more and more Republican notables leaping from the Donald Trump crazy train — Sen. Susan Collins last night — the GOP is in need of cauterizing its wounds before it bleeds out. House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin issued a dire warning in a fundraising appeal last week, “If we fail to protect our majority in Congress, we could be handing President Hillary Clinton a blank check.”

But national polls, like campaign signs, don't vote. Nor do we elect presidents nationally by popular vote. We elect them via the byzantine Electoral College. Not to diminish a popular movement, but swing states matter.

Politico looked at the state of the fall contests in key counties in swing states, that is, down in the trenches:
And the Clinton campaign is methodically working to lock down these pivotal places by leveraging the family’s longtime relationships with local officials and activating a field organization that’s far more extensive than the ad hoc, seat-of-the-pants effort on the GOP side.

Trump’s interest in hyper-local intelligence gathering stands in sharp contrast to his campaign’s public positioning. Publicly, the GOP nominee feuds with his party’s biggest national stars and dismisses the standard strategic and tactical approaches utilized by his top-of-the-ticket predecessors. What organization and outreach he has is provided by the Republican National Committee and state parties.
That concurs with the efforts seen here so far. The Democrats' field organization has been on the ground for a couple of months, operating under the auspices of the state Democratic party at first, and post-convention under the national campaign. And it is growing. There is much less parachuting in of a headquarters and field team than in the last couple of presidential races. It feels more organic. Plus, more focus on down-ticket races than before.

That could be a boon to Democratic challengers and incumbents this fall. Democracy for America has endorsed Deborah Ross for U.S. Senate against incumbent North Carolina Republican Richard Burr who holds a narrow lead over Ross in polling. There is incentive for Berners to get behind Ross. If Democrats take back the Senate, Bernie Sanders will likely chair the Senate Budget Committee.