NEW YORK – On Mitt Romney’s airplane heading to Boston on Election Day 2012, chief campaign strategist Stuart Stevens told WND that the former Massachusetts governor was certain to be elected president because “a positive campaign message trumps a ground game every time.”
Nevertheless, with the firing of veteran political operative Rick Wiley, it appears that Donald Trump is banking more on campaign manager Corey Lewandowski’s strategy to “let Trump be Trump” than on the kind of cutting-edge demographics-based ground game that Barack Obama relied upon to defeat Romney in 2012.
Meanwhile, Democratic ground-game geeks are licking their chops with Trump’s repeated declarations that traditionally Democratic-leaning states such as New York and California can be put into play this year.
Obama’s sweep of the swing states in 2012 has been partly attributed to the groundbreaking demographic analysis of sociologist Ruy Teixeira, who in a 2002 book titled “The Emerging Democratic Majority” predicted a Democratic presidential-election majority based on progressive values and a postindustrial view of America.
Get a first-hand account of the Democratic presidential front-runner’s character in “Hillary The Other Woman.” Then take action with the Hillary Clinton Investigative Justice Project and let others know, with a bumper sticker calling for “Hillary for prosecution, not president.”
The 2013 book “What Went Wrong: The Inside Story of the GOP Debacle of 2012 … And How It Can Be Avoided Next Time” by this reporter recounted how the computer geniuses running Obama’s 2012 presidential election ground game adapted Teixeira’s demographic analysis into micro-targeting techniques that set records both in grassroots fundraising and Democratic Party voter turnout, dealing Romney a crushing defeat.
Democratic ground-game beats Trump messaging?
The Washington Post featured Teixeira’s most recent demographic analysis in a March 21 story titled “Donald Trump will (almost certainly) never be elected president. Here’s why.”
With his track record, Teixeira’s analysis bears serious consideration, despite the power of a Trump campaign that secured the 1,237 delegates needed to win the GOP nomination before the California primary.
In a comprehensive report on the projected make up of the 2016 electorate released last year by the Center for American Progress and updated regularly by Teixeira on his “Election Oracle” blog on the CAP website, it will be nearly impossible for Trump to amass the white voters needed to overcome the advantage Democrats have with African-Americans, Hispanics, Asian-Americans and women. The Democrats have a particular advantage with single working women who are highly educated along with Millennials and professionals, including highly educated tech specialists.
As detailed in the Washington Post article, Teixeira is willing to concede that Trump will win college-educated white voters by larger margins than did Romney.
Teixeira’s analysis boils down to quantifying how much Trump would need to improve over Romney’s performance among white voters overall, including blue-collar white voters, to beat the Democrats in 2016. Continued demographic shifts since 2012 have increased the various sub-groups comprising Obama’s reconstitution of FDR’s “New Deal” coalition.
Based on his analysis of current demographics in likely swing states and the expected superiority of the Democrats’ “Get Out The Vote,” or GOTV, computer-driven ground game, Teixeira concludes the following:
- In Michigan, where Romney beat Obama 52-46 among white voters overall, Trump would have to win white voters by 58-40;
- In Wisconsin, where Romney beat Obama by 50-49 among white voters overall, Trump would have to win them by 54-45;
- In Pennsylvania, where Romney beat Obama 54-44 among white voters overall, Trump would have to win them by 58-40;
- In Ohio, where Romney beat Obama by 56-42 among white voters overall, Trump would have to win them by 58-40.
Given the Democratic Party majorities in New York and California, Teixeira concedes both states to the Democrats in 2016.
The last time a Republican presidential candidate carried New York was in 1984, when President Ronald Reagan won re-election.
The last Republican victory in California was in 1988, when George H. W. Bush was elected to succeed President Reagan.
Despite Trump’s claims he will drive up GOP turnout, Teixeira argues the “demographic trap” is that in driving up the white turnout, Trump will likely also drive up the nonwhite voter turnout, cancelling out any boost he might gain from increased voter enthusiasm.
A winning strategy?
Trump faces another dilemma in having announced months ago that he intends to finance his 2016 presidential campaign on his own.
In a presidential contest that may cost each of the two leading candidates in excess of $2 billion, the question will be whether or not Trump has enough liquid net worth to combat the thousands of small-dollar contributors Democrats like Bernie Sanders have mobilized while forgoing hundreds of millions of dollars Super PACs supporting Hillary Clinton are on track to raise.
As WND reported last week, the Trump campaign has confirmed that Trump “continues to disavow all Super PACs.”
The stance has created difficulty for wealthy donors who want to contribute millions to Trump’s campaign but are put off by indecision, with various Super PACs competing for the title of being Trump’s number one Super PAC.
Great America PAC, the leading pro-Trump Super PAC, has raised approximately $1 million in donations, with FEC reports suggesting veteran GOP strategist Ed Rollins will have a difficult time paying off loans to the Super PAC while also explaining his ties to the Clinton machine. Rollins was a senior adviser to the consulting firm Teneo, established by Bill Clinton’s former “body man” Doug Band.
The recently formed Committee for American Sovereignty, also claiming to be a Trump-supporting Super PAC, has struggled to launch a successful national email marketing campaign, despite having announced the intention to apply donations to building a Trump ground-game instead of purchasing expensive television advertising.
The New York Times reported last week that Super PACs supporting Hillary Clinton had raised $84.6 million, with $47.3 million yet on hand. Meanwhile, Super PACs supporting Trump had raised just $1.1 million, with only approximately $100,000 yet on hand.