With fewer than 70 days to go before Election Day, the Republican National Committee announced it is making significant strides when it comes to competing in battleground states in the fall.
It still falls far short of the ground game already in place by Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.
On Friday, the RNC announced the addition of 392 staffers and 98 new offices across 11 battleground states.
The new staff and field offices will be added in Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin.
With this beefed-up personnel, the RNC said the total number of paid employees across the country now exceeds 1,000 and it “currently has more staff in the field than at any point in the 2012 cycle.”
“Our organizing efforts began years ago and this new wave of hires will seamlessly plug into our operation as we head into the final stretch of the campaign season,” RNC Chairman Reince Priebus said in a statement. “The RNC is committed to sending Donald Trump to the White House and solidifying our majorities in Congress.”
Trump, the Republican nominee, has leveraged his celebrity and unorthodox campaign style to gain a tremendous amount of so-called “free media” throughout his campaign. But he has also had to rely heavily on the RNC to build an on-the-ground campaign infrastructure — opening campaign offices, hiring staff and volunteers — things campaigns traditionally do much on their own.
By comparison, Clinton’s campaign has more than three times as many field offices in 15 competitive states this fall, according to a PBS NewsHour tally. As of the end of August, Clinton had 291 field offices to Trump’s 88. Per NewsHour:
“The contrast is a test for the conventional campaign model and points to the candidates’ stark differences in methods. Clinton is cleaving to the data-driven, on-the-ground machine that won two elections for Barack Obama. Trump, on the other hand, insists he does not need traditional campaign tactics to win the election, pointing to his overwhelming nomination victory achieved with a relatively small team and little spending.
“Nevertheless, the ground game is poised to be critical in 2016. Undecided voters are becoming scarce, and targeted turnout may be the deciding factor on Nov. 8. That usually requires field offices with phone banks, organized volunteers and a coordinated effort to knock on doors and get people to the polls.”
Trump defended his campaign’s infrastructure, tweeting Friday that people shouldn’t doubt the strength of his ground game.