Even with an unprecedented amount of free advertising by complacent (if not outright complicit) TV media outlets, Donald Trump won’t be able to win the presidential election without organizing on a state and community level. It’s a bit of campaign wisdom that has stood the test of time—as telegenic as Obama was, he needed an historically comprehensive network of local organizations, all reporting to the top, to guarantee his wins against McCain and Romney. Not even Trump is immune to the need.
And he’s failing, badly, if a recent Politico report is to be believed. Interviewing “veteran Republican operatives,” they got a few choice quotes about the quality of Trump’s organization. One longtime New Hampshire operative said he had never even heard of Trump’s state director, and a Nevada expert basically said Hillary is crushing him in that potential swing state. And in an important county in Ohio—which might be the most important state at all—there’s barely a campaign at at all. Here’s the crux of the broader problem:
Trump’s list of state directors is peppered with a mix of young people who have no presidential campaign experience, as well as Republican operatives who have been out of the spotlight for years. In contrast, Clinton is boosted by Democratic operatives who led marquee races and helped shepherd Barack Obama’s victories in 2008 and 2012.
The funniest part of the story is how a previous state director from North Carolina is being sued because he allegedly pulled a gun on a staffer. That’s disorganized!
Even short of dramatic stories like that, the problem seems to be that many experienced GOP operatives won’t work for Trump, and others took a long time to come on board. Further, his maverick status tends to attract outsiders in a field where experience is key. Finally, Politico says (in much nicer terms), Trump really doesn’t give a shit. That’s the least surprising part of the whole thing—he likes being on TV, he likes being controversial, but there’s no way this guy is going to devote a ton of mental energy to the nitty-gritty menial work that turns out votes on a microcosmic level. The bad news for him is that Hillary Clinton lives for this stuff, and her team has depth and experience, and includes some of the best tacticians who worked for President Obama.
In combination with his dwindling poll numbers, this is more bad news for the Republican nominee. And good news for sane people.