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Donald Trump’s ground team is the opposite of yuge

Blake West calls voters asking them to vote for Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump while working at the Newmarket Trump campaign headquarters on February 8, 2016, in Newmarket, New Hampshire.
Blake West calls voters asking them to vote for Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump while working at the Newmarket Trump campaign headquarters on February 8, 2016, in Newmarket, New Hampshire.
Joe Raedle/Getty Images

According to Politico, Donald Trump is seriously behind Hillary Clinton when it comes to his staff (or lack thereof) in key battleground states.

Politico quoted anonymous insiders in several key states who openly questioned the size of the Trump field operation. The campaign currently has around 70 paid staffers, compared with the 700 working for Clinton. And he’s raised about $248.7 million less than she has.

Of the anonymous GOP insiders surveyed, 92 percent said Clinton was better positioned on the ground than Trump (Democrats surveyed universally felt Clinton had the better operation). But as Vox’s Matt Yglesias pointed out in June, whether that actually matters is unclear:

The big debate in the academic literature is whether these campaign events don’t matter at all, or whether they just matter a teeny, tiny bit.

One reason it’s hard to really tell what difference campaign maneuverings make, though, is that candidates for office certainly act like they’re a big deal. They raise hundreds of millions of dollars. They hire vast teams of experienced professionals. They blast their opponents’ gaffes to hundreds of reporters and employ small armies of spokespeople to explain away their own.

Trump is an outlier in the traditional methodology of politics, so it is difficult to say whether his lack of field staff and regional headquarters is actually going to hurt him in the long run. In the past, it seemed necessary because it’s what everyone did.

Earlier in June, Trump senior adviser Ed Brookover told CNN that the campaign would be shifting its focus to field operations soon, with the help of the Republican National Committee.

"We're pre-convention. The convention is typically the kickoff point for these joint campaigns to begin," Brookover said. "And so the fact that we're beginning to work together now makes me feel good about where we are."

But how good they should feel remains to be seen.

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