Whoops, Trump Forgot This One Important Thing

by Seth Millstein

Since clinching the Republican presidential nomination, Donald Trump has been wooing establishment Republicans, previewing his general election attacks on Hillary Clinton, and vetting potential vice presidents. But the one thing Trump hasn't been doing is building an actual campaign. Upon closer inspection, it becomes clear that the Trump campaign has seriously lagged behind Clinton's in organization and infrastructure, especially in swing states, and that could cost him in November.

In Ohio, Clinton has already dispatched a full-time team to prepare for the general election. Trump, meanwhile, has no general election staff in the state, according to The Wall Street Journal. The same is true in Florida, where Clinton already has a campaign headquarters and field team, yet the Trump campaign has nobody. In fact, NBC News reported that Trump hasn't developed a Florida strategy yet, let alone started to implement one.

Florida and Ohio are both absolutely critical swing states in presidential elections. No Republican has won the presidency without winning Florida since Calvin Coolidge did in 1924, and Ohio has voted for the winner in every election since 1964. And while the states are important for both candidates, they're more important to Republicans, who face a very hard electoral map this year and will have an extremely difficult time winning the presidency without either (or both) of these states.


But Trump's lack of preparedness extends beyond those two states; Clinton has nearly ten times as many staffers as Trump and has spent three times as much money in the last month setting up campaign offices, according to Federal Election Commission filings. Obviously, there's still a long time between now and the general election, but all of this suggests that Trump still hasn't taken this whole "building a campaign" thing very seriously.

And maybe he doesn't have to; defenders of Trump would argue that he won the primaries with a relatively small campaign apparatus, and that's true. But I'd point out that in the primary, Trump skyrocketed to the top of the polls almost immediately after launching his campaign, so he essentially had a plurality of support from Republicans on day one. The same is not true for the general election, where polls have consistently shown Trump losing to Democrats.

This means that Trump can't simply retain his existing support. He needs to expand it, and that requires things like campaign workers knocking on doors, micro-targeting likely supporters at the local level, polling important states to see what issues are likely to sway their voters, and so on.

In other words, winning requires an actual campaign, and so far, Trump hasn't built one.