Clinton holds huge ground game advantage over Team Trump

Clinton holds huge ground game advantage over Team Trump
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Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonGOP rushes to cut ties to Moore Papadopoulos was in regular contact with Stephen Miller, helped edit Trump speech: report Bannon jokes Clinton got her ‘ass kicked’ in 2016 election MORE’s presidential campaign has built a field team in swing-states across the country that is larger than a U.S. Army brigade, giving her a huge advantage over Republican Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpDems win from coast to coast Falwell after Gillespie loss: 'DC should annex' Northern Virginia Dems see gains in Virginia's House of Delegates MORE on Election Day. 

Between Clinton’s presidential campaign, the Democratic National Committee and state party operations, campaign finance reports show Democrats employ 5,138 staffers across 15 battleground states.

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Clinton is funding the army through tens of millions of dollars raised for state Democratic Parties across the country.

“Campaigns are won on the ground which is why we invested early to organize and register voters in this historic election,” said Lily Adams, a spokeswoman for Clinton’s campaign.

By contrast, Trump’s campaign, the Republican National Committee and state parties employ just 1,409 staffers in 16 states. Lindsay Walters, an RNC spokeswoman, said the RNC has paid staffers in 24 states across the country.

Trump’s campaign has shown little interest in investing in a ground operation.

National Republicans, independent of the Trump campaign, have plowed millions into building the sort of field team necessary to compete with Democrats, but new campaign finance reports show they are falling well short of Democrats.

Walters said Republicans also rely on more than 4,500 trained organizers, many of whom spend hours every week canvassing neighborhoods tracking down Republican votes. Some of those trained organizers receive stipends, reports filed with the Federal Election Commission show.

“The RNC’s significant and early investment in community organization and voter contact in key states across the country has placed our candidates in a strong position to win in November,” Walters said in an email last week. “We have created a historic ground game operation designed to identify and turn out voters who will elect Republicans up and down the ticket regardless if a person votes early, through absentee ballot or on Election Day.”

In critical swing states where Trump and Clinton are competing for electoral votes, the disparity is stark. The Ohio Democratic Party has 502 staffers on payroll. The state Republican Party paid just 104 people in its last payroll period.

More than 300 staffers were on the North Carolina Democratic Party’s payroll at the end of September. That’s three times the number of state Republican Party staffers on the ground.

In Nevada, where polls show a tight race, the state Republican Party employs 67 staffers. The state Democratic Party has several times that number, 240. Iowa Republicans, who hope to preserve Trump’s relatively strong poll numbers, have 32 staffers. The state Democratic Party has 206 paid staff.

In Pennsylvania, a must-win state for Trump’s campaign, state Republicans employ 62 total staff — and state Democrats have 508 people on payroll. Florida Democrats have 678 paid staffers, compared with 150 people who work for the Republican Party of Florida.

Polls also show Arizona, normally a reliably red state, is a closer contest than anticipated. The Clinton campaign said this week it would invest $2 million trying to win Arizona’s 10 electoral votes — and the state party reported paying 230 field staffers last month. By contrast, the Arizona Republican Party paid just 12 staff members.

Among the battleground states on the map this year, Republicans maintain a staffing edge in just one state: New Hampshire, where the state GOP pays 222 people. Democrats have a staff about half that size. 

But about three quarters of the paid GOP staff received small stipends, an indication they are among the ranks of trained organizers rather than full-time staff.

State party payrolls only hint at the paid staff advantage Democrats have as Election Day looms and early voting begins. The Clinton campaign reported paying 809 staffers in September, while the Trump campaign paid just 152. The DNC has 478 staffers, according to their FEC reports; the RNC has just 270.

Those staffers working directly for the campaigns themselves and for the national party committees are routinely dispatched to key states to help bolster field operations. They also work for candidates running for seats in Congress and at lower levels, and Democrats hope their field team leads them to broader victories in November.

Those staffers working directly for the campaigns themselves and for the national party committees are routinely dispatched to key states to help bolster field operations. They also work for candidates running for seats in Congress and at lower levels, and Democrats hope their field team leads them to broader victories in November.

“We continue to work with the DNC and the Democratic coordinated campaign to mobilize voters to support Hillary Clinton and candidates up and down the ballot,” Adams said.

Democrats’ advantage on the ground adds to their edge over the airwaves. While the Trump campaign is spending more on television advertising this week than the Clinton campaign — the first week during the general election when Trump has held an edge — the largest outside group backing Clinton is more than making up the difference.

Together, the Clinton campaign and Priorities USA Action spent $20 million on television ads so far this week. The Trump campaign, with help from the National Rifle Association and a super PAC based in Wisconsin, are spending $16.3 million this week.

Democrats are outspending Republicans this week in Florida, Iowa, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Nevada, Ohio and Pennsylvania. Republicans maintain a spending edge in Colorado, Maine, Virginia and Wisconsin, all states where Clinton leads Trump, and in Indiana, home of Trump’s vice presidential running mate, Mike PenceMichael (Mike) Richard PenceSean Spicer: After Trump's year 1, GOP poised to dominate again in 2018 Cornyn: Senate GOP tax plan to be released Thursday Pence to visit site of Texas church shooting on Wednesday MORE.

Advertising data compiled by the Wesleyan Media Project put those television spending numbers in revealing context: Since the middle of September, voters have seen nearly 90,000 individual spots backing Clinton or attacking Trump. At the same time, Republican groups have aired just 28,000 spots supporting their candidate or bashing Clinton. 

–Updated: 7:10 p.m.