Clinton's commanding ground game


Across the country, Hillary Clinton is winning what is known as the "ground game," with nearly three times as many field offices as Donald Trump. That is not just about numbers: Field offices are crucial to making sure a candidate's message connects to voters, and that voters show up for the candidate on Election Day. Or even before, during early voting.

Hillary Clinton campaigns hard, whether she is ahead in the polls or trailing in the polls. She does not take anything for granted. Not the unpredictable nature of national politics, not votes, and not the voters who cast them.

She has said, often, that she is working for every last vote and that she will work hard, if elected, for every person in the country, irrespective of whether they voted for her. Because that is what good public service entails.

A significant part of working for every vote means building a solid and successful ground game. And so she has.

The numbers do not lie: Clinton is trouncing Donald Trump in the ground game. At FiveThirtyEight, Joshua Darr reports:

Clinton has nearly three times the number of field offices as Trump nationwide (489 vs. 178), and her organization dominates Trump’s in every battleground state. Clinton’s offices outnumber Trump’s by 19 in New Hampshire, 23 in Iowa and Colorado, and 28 in North Carolina. In the states where Trump has opened the most offices, such as Pennsylvania (35), Florida (21) and Ohio (25), Clinton’s advantage tends to be even larger: She bests him by 22 offices in Pennsylvania, 47 in Florida and 50 in Ohio. Trump’s ground game is far from nonexistent, but his campaign simply does not have the infrastructure to match Clinton’s capabilities for voter contact and mobilization.

It is particularly notable that Clinton has a wider advantage in Ohio, Florida, and Pennsylvania, which are the three battleground states that will likely decide the election.

If, as some pollsters have predicted, the race comes down to Pennsylvania, Clinton is in a strong position. She has the advantage in fundraising and advertising, which helps her have a more effective and robust ground game.

To understand why this is so crucial, it is important to know what field offices do. The staffers at field officers are tasked with a variety of duties, all of which fall under the broader umbrella of "on-the-ground" organizing.

This includes (but is not limited to): running campaign offices; voter outreach via canvassing, phone banking, and local events organizing; messaging and voter persuasion; maintaining records of voters/supporters; serving as liaison between the campaign and local organizations and activists; distribution of campaign merchandise and signage; and, critically, voter registration and get out the vote efforts.

That also includes early voting, where Clinton has an edge:

Democrats are requesting more absentee ballots in Florida than they were at this point in 2012, with increases of 50 percent in the heavily Hispanic areas around Miami and Orlando. In North Carolina, where Mitt Romney built enough of a lead in early voting four years ago to edge out a victory over President Obama, Democrats are requesting mail-in ballots in larger numbers than in 2012, while Republicans’ participation is declining.

These results will have more impact than ever this year, as record numbers of people are expected to cast their votes early. So many Americans will have voted by Election Day — more than 40 percent in swing states, according to the Clinton campaign — that the winner could be known before November.

...Robby Mook, Mrs. Clinton’s campaign manager, said he was confident of where they stood in Florida and other swing states.

“We are literally in the midst of the highest peak in voter registration for our campaign,” he said last week during a conference call with reporters.

In a number of different ways, field offices interact with communities, giving the central campaign important insight into what the community needs — and then making sure that the community understands what that candidate is proposing to do to address those needs. That is, giving people a reason to vote.

"The core of organizing is building relationships, and our organizers have been on the ground for months building real relationships with voters in diverse communities across the country," said Addisu Demissie, National Voter Outreach and Mobilization Director for Hillary for America, in a statement to Shareblue. "There's no substitute for a person who knows the barbershop or the bodega where people go to congregate, who has broken bread with community leaders and influencers, and who has been in the church basement meetings to listen to the issues that the neighborhood most cares about."

Having more field offices does not guarantee a victory. It does, however, provide a significant edge, when those field offices are operating effectively. And this is not Clinton's first time at the rodeo.

Her campaign has built an impressive infrastructure, and she is using it in the best possible way: To win, but to win by communicating to voters that she will be a president who listens, who is responsive, and who does not take them for granted.