Trump's Anemic Field Organization Is Frightening Top Republicans

Trump's Anemic Field Organization Is Frightening Top Republicans

Chris LaCivita

Photo by Brian Snyder/REUTERS

Donald Trump's presidential campaign is trying to sell donors on the idea that less is more when it comes to his flagging ground game in critical battleground states.

“We’re focused on quality over quantity. I mean, how novel a concept,” chief Trump campaign strategist Chris LaCivita told a crowd of mega donors on May 4 at Mar-a-Lago.

But here's how that leaner field organization looks on the ground to many GOP state strategists: “There is no sign of life,” said Kim Owens, a Republican operative in Arizona.

“Especially in a state that Trump lost so closely last time," Owens continued, "you’d expect to have more of a presence. I would think, ‘Let’s step it up.’ I think it’s a terrible mistake.”

These accounts come from an absolutely wild piece of reporting by four reporters at The Washington Post: Michael Sherer, Josh Dawsey, Maeve Reston, and Yvonne Wingett Sanchez. The reporting, which relates to the structural aspects of the contest, also comes at a moment when fresh New York Times/Siena polling suggests Trump is ahead of Biden in a handful of key battleground states.

Arizona's GOP operatives aren't alone in feeling mystified by the Trump campaign’s lack of presence—they are joined by those in Michigan, Georgia, and others as well.

The reason for Trump's flagging operation isn't exactly clear. To be sure, the Trump campaign is cash strapped, particularly when compared to the Biden campaign's war chest. Trump also recently took over the Republican National Committee, and the new leadership, which includes his daughter-in-law Lara Trump, reportedly scrapped the organizational plans drawn up by the old leadership under the direction of Ronna Romney McDaniel.

Under the original plan, in Georgia, the RNC was supposed to hire 12 regional field directors and 40 field organizers by the end of May, topped off by 20 field offices down the road. Instead, the RNC currently has one consultant, according to Cody Hall, a senior aide to Republican Gov. Brian Kemp, who has a tense relationship with Trump. Hall said he has "seen no evidence" that the Trump campaign has the field operation necessary to win the Peach State.

A similar story is playing out in Arizona, where the RNC planned to open seven field offices and hire six regional field directors overseeing 23 organizers by the end of May. That plan appears to be dead on arrival with nothing to take its place.

An RNC presence is also missing in action in other battleground states, including Michigan, where several unnamed operatives were concerned.

Additionally, the Bank Your Vote effort, an early voting operation the RNC had launched at the beginning of the year, has gone dark with its website entirely offline for an indefinite amount of time.

Yet Trump campaign staffers and allies appear to be gaslighting their way through the deficit.

Asked about the Bank Your Vote operation by the Post, James Blair, the national political director for both the Trump campaign and the RNC, said, "It is full speed ahead. Stay tuned for more on the program.”

Blair's response was par for the course in the piece, which makes it difficult to pinpoint exactly what is happening with the RNC and the Trump campaign, which effectively appears to be a joint operation at this point. But among Republican operatives in these states—who are usually instrumental to implementing a statewide strategy—everyone is in the dark.

Perhaps most concerning is that Trump directed the RNC leadership to focus their efforts on election security rather than field operations and turnout. According to the reporting, Trump is plenty sure of his own ability to turn out his voters.

But here's another way to read that: Trump has no earthly idea if he can turn out enough people to win on the front end, so he's training the campaign's resources on ways to cause trouble on the back end. They’ll do this by questioning the integrity of the vote and, therefore, the election's results.

“Focus on the cheating,” the Post reported Trump told McDaniel and others when she was still leading the organization.

So as its GOTV operation flails, the RNC is planning a massive "election integrity" operation with "tens of thousands of volunteers who will monitor precincts and vote counting across the country," according to the reporting.

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos.

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