Sunday, December 27, 2015

Josh Marshall's Reality Check on the Ground Game

The question has been: ok, Trump is dominating in the polls but what's his ground game like? Are those folks going to show up? But Josh makes the point that this is only relevant in Iowa or other caucus states. In a normal primary state, voters don't need their hands held to get to the polls.

"I wanted to discuss a couple questions I keep getting asked.

First, couldn't Trump's sky-high poll numbers just not pan out if he has no ground game in the early or even the primary states?

No, this is not the case."

"First, for non-political types, ground game just means a level of field organization (and increasingly a data component to the field organization) that can be effectively used to turn out voters on election day. Field operations are a big, big deal. Campaigns spend huge amounts of money building them and for good reason."

"But here's the big 'but' ... With the exception of Iowa where the rules are so complicated and participation time-consuming, field organization only matters for, say, 1% to 5% of the vote margin. Going into a 2012 Romney v Obama election day, the chance to gain or lose up to 5% of your vote means everything. But in the case of Trump we're talking about a candidate who may have anywhere from a 10 to 20 point margin over the next runner up. If Donald Trump goes into, say, New Hampshire, with a durable 15 point lead, he's going to win. Period."

By and large people don't need to be told to vote or how to vote. They vote. They know how to do it."

Yet we keep hearing that if Trump doesn't have the ground game his numbers are just a mirage. I also think Josh gets it right on his other question he tackles in the post. Who would Hillary rather face-Trump or Cruz; he agrees, of course, that the best candidates for her to face are one of these two.

He thinks that Trump could lose even worse than Cruz in a general-which makes some sense. Cruz is a garden variety movement conservative whereas Trump is a new mutation, a sort of Right wing populist in the guise of George Wallace and Pat Buchanan. In that vein, Trump has earned the distrust of many dyed in the wool conservatives like Glenn Back who says he will not vote at all if it's a Clinton-Trump choice.

Cruz would have a reliable base of support that just wouldn't be large enough-he'd likely not be able to do much to garner the support of more mainstream supporters; he'd probably not even try. Trump would really be a kind of realignment. He might be able to pick up some more mainstream voters but he'd also lose a lot of traditional Republican voters who would either vote for Hillary or stay home.

But Josh Marshall does also warn that Trump is more of a wildcard-he's not at all predictable. There is a wild card nature with him-less certainty. So if certainty were your thing, you'd rather go for Cruz.

For my part, I'd rather have Trump. It seems to me that a Clinton-Trump campaign is much more indicative of where the country is at the present. 

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