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How the Trump Campaign Is Taking a Cue From Hillary Clinton

How the Trump Campaign Is Taking a Cue From Hillary Clinton

Trump 2020 campaign manager Brad Parscale, the supposed social media genius behind the scenes.
Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

When you look back at why so many people thought Hillary Clinton was a lock late in the 2016 campaign despite tightening polls, two reasons stand out. The first is that in the month before the election, half the Republicans in captivity distanced themselves from their nominee (with many denouncing him as a disgusting pig) following the release of the Access Hollywood tape. The other was the belief that Hillary Clinton’s massive field operation gave her a thumb on the scales in the event that things really did get iffy.

In the postelection mythology of 2016, there was a tendency to go far in the other direction and argue that HRC’s “ground game” somehow lost the election for her. Nate Silver responded to that strange claim in his series on “the real story of 2016”:

[W]hat went wrong with Clinton’s vaunted ground game? There are certainly some things to criticize. There’s been good reporting on how Clinton’s headquarters in Brooklyn ignored warning signs on the ground and rejected the advice of local operatives in states such as Michigan. And as I wrote in a previous installment of this series, Clinton did not allocate her time and resources between states in the way we would have recommended. In particular, she should have spent more time playing defense in states such as Wisconsin, Michigan and Colorado and less time trying to turn North Carolina into a blue state or salvage Iowa from turning red.

Here’s the thing, though: The evidence suggests those decisions didn’t matter very much …

For one thing, winning Wisconsin and Michigan — states that Clinton is rightly accused of ignoring — would not have sufficed to win her the Electoral College. She’d also have needed Pennsylvania, Florida or another state where she campaigned extensively.

Another part of the counter-mythology of 2016 held that the Clinton campaign was playing conventional checkers with its ground game, while Team Trump was playing some sort of three-dimensional social media chess with all those Facebook ads and maybe a little outside help from people who happen to drink a lot of vodka. Unsurprisingly, one person responsible for promoting this view of the election has been 2016 Trump digital director Brad Parscale:

In an interview with CBS News’ “60 Minutes” that aired Sunday, Brad Parscale said Facebook “was the method” for President Donald Trump’s stunning rise to the White House. Parscale, who spearheaded the small Trump campaign team’s digital and fundraising efforts, contended that the team took advantage of Facebook in a way Democrat Hillary Clinton’s campaign did not.

“Facebook now lets you get to places and places possibly that you would never go with TV ads,” Parscale, web director at San Antonio-based marketing and design firm Giles Parscale, told CBS. “Now, I can find, you know, 15 people in the Florida Panhandle that I would never buy a TV commercial for. And, we took opportunities that I think the other side didn’t.”

Parscale has since been named as Trump’s overall 2020 campaign manager, and has continued to make noise suggesting he’s some sort of political Zen master who has transcended polls and other timeworn tools of the trade. But Team Trump is also rolling in the kind of money that its 2016 predecessor could barely imagine. So how are they planning to spend it? Pretty much like Hillary Clinton did in 2016, or so it sounds in this account from Brian Bennett, which emphasizes the blue states Trump is targeting but also indicates a very personnel-heavy field operation:

 Trump’s campaign is betting it can win in New Mexico. Flush with cash, the campaign is planning to announce a state director and additional ground staff there in the coming weeks, a campaign official tells TIME. Internal campaign data has convinced Trump’s political advisors they can energize a slice of the state’s Hispanic voters to vote for Trump in 2020 by emphasizing Trump’s handling of the economy, border security and his trade confrontation with China. According to U.S. Census data, 49.1 percent of New Mexico’s residents identify themselves as Hispanic or Latino …

The move is part of a series of bets Trump is making to win states that went for Clinton in 2016. Trump’s son-in-law and senior White House advisor Jared Kushner says that voter data has convinced the reelection effort to fund robust field operations in a much larger number of states than in 2016. “I can see us very aggressively playing in 18 swing states,” Jared Kushner tells TIME, adding that in his view, the 2016 Trump campaign “seriously played” in about 11 swing states.

It sure sounds like Team Trump disparaged the kind of ground game Hillary Clinton had in 2016 up until, but not beyond, the moment it could afford one of its own. Who knows, maybe we’ll hear the president’s flacks and conservative media arguing next year that prognosticators should put a thumb on the scales for him if things get close. It’s not like they feel any compunction toward consistency.

How the Trump Campaign Is Taking a Cue From Hillary Clinton

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An exciting landmark

The surge of minority women getting jobs has helped push the U.S. workforce across a historic threshold. For the first time, most new hires of prime working age (25 to 54) are people of color, according to a Washington Post analysis of data the Labor Department began collecting in the 1970s. Minority hires overtook white hires last year.

Women are predominantly driving this trend, which is so powerful that even many women who weren’t thinking about working — because they were in school, caring for kids or at home for other reasons — are being lured into employment, according to The Post’s analysis.

Minority women began to pour into the labor market in 2015, and they have begun to reshape the demographics of the U.S. workforce, especially because many white baby boomers have been retiring. There are 5.2 million more people in the United States with jobs than at the end of 2016, and 4.5 million of them are minorities, according to The Post’s analysis of Labor Department data.

Now, the question is whether minority groups will hold on to these gains as the economy shows signs of fraying. Job growth is slowing this year, the Labor Department reported Friday, giving rise to fears that a trade war and global economic slowdown that have already hit U.S. economic growth could begin to restrict hiring.


No Constitutional Requirement for House Authorization of Impeachment Inquiry

By Ed Kilgore

Republicans can whinge all they want, but Nadler is on solid ground in moving ahead without a full House vote.

the top line

Here’s Why JPMorgan’s ‘Volfefe’ Trump Twitter Index Matters

By Josh Barro

Investment-bank research desks are typically not in the “fun facts” business.

intelligencer chats

intelligencer chats

Are Democrats Blowing Their 2020 Message?

By Jonathan Chait, Benjamin Hart, and Ed Kilgore

Intelligencer staffers discuss whether the party is focusing on the right strategy to beat President Trump.

vision 2020

How the Trump Campaign Is Taking a Cue From Hillary Clinton

By Ed Kilgore

The Trump team is taking a cue from Clinton’s 2016 campaign as it looks toward 2020.

talking about the weather

talking about the weather

How Trump’s False Dorian Forecast Sparked a Crisis at NOAA

By Chas Danner

The administration threatened firings at the agency if it did not put facts aside and back up the president.

A once-prominent political couple is no more

Todd Palin appears to have filed for divorce from former Alaska governor and one-time vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin, his wife of 31 years.

In a document filed Friday in Anchorage Superior Court, Todd Palin, 55, asked to dissolve the marriage, citing an “incompatibility of temperament between the parties such that they find it impossible to live together as husband and wife.”

The divorce filing uses initials rather than full names, but identifies the couple’s marriage date and the birth date of their only child who is a minor, Trig Palin. The filing asks for joint legal custody of the child.

The Alabama/sharpie/hurricane story takes an even more authoritarian turn

The Secretary of Commerce threatened to fire top employees at NOAA on Friday after the agency’s Birmingham office contradicted President Trump’s claim that Hurricane Dorian might hit Alabama, according to three people familiar with the discussion.

That threat led to an unusual, unsigned statement later that Friday by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration disavowing the office’s own position that Alabama was not at risk.

The reversal caused widespread anger within the agency and drew criticism from the scientific community that NOAA, a division of the Commerce Department, had been bent to political purposes.

Officials at the White House and the Commerce Department declined to comment on administration involvement in the NOAA statement.

the national interest

the national interest

U.S. Intelligence Had to Pull Spy From Russia Because Trump Is a Security Risk

By Jonathan Chait

It’s kind of bad when the president is suspected of outing your own spy.

Say what now?

POTUS says he “doesn’t want to let people who weren’t supposed to be in the Bahamas come into the US” despite the wreckage from the hurricane


The Kennedy name gets you quite far in Massachusetts


If the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate were held today …

Joe Kennedy 35%

Ed Markey 26%

Steve Pemberton 1%

Shannon Liss-Riordan 1%

Allen Waters 0%

Unsure 37%

(Suffolk U./Boston Globe Poll, likely Democratic primary voters, 9/3-5/19)


vision 2020

Harris Memo Left in Restaurant Gives Her Talking Points Some Circulation

By Ed Kilgore

Was the memo really “accidentally” left on a restaurant table? We’ll probably never know.


Former Spy Valerie Plame’s Bizarre New Ad Looks Like an Action-Movie Trailer

By Adam K. Raymond

“Yes, the CIA really does teach us how to drive like this.”


Why Apple Apps Regularly Outrank Competitors in Search

By Brian Feldman

The company says it is making changes so that its own products don’t bury competitors’.

How long until Trump brands this a “witch hunt”?

Three U.S. House of Representatives committees said on Monday they had begun “a wide-ranging investigation” into reports that President Donald Trump, his lawyer Rudy Giuliani and possibly others pressured Ukraine’s government to assist Trump’s re-election campaign.

The Democratic chairman of the House Intelligence, Oversight and Foreign Affairs committees wrote to the White House and State Department seeking records related to what they described as efforts to “manipulate the Ukrainian justice system.”

Trump and some of his fellow Republicans have questioned whether it represented a conflict of interest that Hunter Biden, the son of Democratic former Vice President Joe Biden, a presidential candidate, had served on the board of Burisma, a Ukrainian gas company.

vision 2020

October Debates Could Go Back to Two Nights As Steyer Qualifies

By Ed Kilgore

Eleven candidates have qualified for the October round of Democratic presidential debates in Ohio. That’s one more than any stage can hold.

Most Americans support banning assault weapons, but not mandatory buybacks

The poll finds 56% of the public supports banning the future sale of assault weapons (44% strongly and 12% somewhat), while 38% oppose this (28% strongly and 10% somewhat). At the same time, 53% oppose a mandatory buyback program of assault weapons currently in private hands (40% strongly and 13% somewhat), compared to 43% who support such a program (33% strongly and 10% somewhat).

Most Democrats back both a ban on future assault weapons sales (86% support and 12% oppose) and a mandatory buyback program for currently owned assault weapons (69% support and 25% oppose). Few Republicans are in favor of either a sales ban (35% support and 59% oppose) or a mandatory buyback (22% support and 74% oppose). Independents are divided on a sales ban (47% support and 45% oppose) but decidedly negative on a mandatory buyback program (36% support and 60% oppose).  

vision 2020

Trump Mocks Sanford, Latest GOP Challenger, for Cheating With ‘Flaming Dancer’

By Adam K. Raymond

Cheating on your spouse is an issue the president happens to knows a bit about.

More direct language than usual about this kind of thing

Awarding honors to police officers and civilians who responded to the massacres in Dayton and El Paso, Trump calls the El Paso killer a “soulless and bigoted monster” and describes the attack as “racist.”


House of Commons Speaker John Bercow, whose cry of “Order!” has made him internationally famous, will step down in the next few weeks

John Bercow: “If the House votes tonight for an early general election, my tenure as Speaker and MP will end when this Parliament ends,” adding, alternatively, “the least disruptive and most democratic course of action would be to stand down at close of business on Oct. 31”


donald trump

Payments From Air Force Stopovers May Have Kept Trump Turnberry Afloat

By Matt Stieb

The Air Force has spent $11 million at a small airport vital to Trump Turnberry and required servicemembers to stay at his Scottish hotel.

It sure would be nice to get to the bottom of this

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration acting chief scientist said in an email to colleagues Sunday that he is investigating whether the agency’s response to President Trump’s Hurricane Dorian tweets constituted a violation of NOAA policies and ethics.

In an email to NOAA staff that was obtained by The Washington Post, the official, Craig McLean, called the agency’s response “political” and a “danger to public health and safety.”

President Trump’s incorrect assertion on Sept. 1 that Alabama was at risk from Hurricane Dorian set off a chain of confusion and outrage among the public, and within NOAA. At the time, the National Weather Service’s forecast guidance showed only a very small risk to tropical storm-force winds.

the national interest

the national interest

Trump Has Figured Out How to Corrupt the Entire Government

By Jonathan Chait

A spate of recent stories share a single theme: Trump’s stink is seeping into every corner of Washington.

The rare Trump plan that appears to be working

President Donald Trump’s plan to force Mexico to stem the flow of migrants across the southwest border of the U.S. appears to be working.

Border arrests, a metric for illegal crossings, plummeted to 51,000 in August, according to preliminary government figures obtained by POLITICO Wednesday, down more than 60 percent since a peak in May. And border watchers say it’s largely because of an agreement Trump struck with Mexico in June. Mexican authorities, backed by the newly formed National Guard, are now cracking down on migrants traversing Mexico’s southern border with Guatemala, monitoring river crossings and stopping buses carrying migrants from Central America through Mexico. At the same time, the U.S. is making tens of thousands of asylum seekers wait in Mexico while their applications are considered.

The decline in border traffic — if sustained — could amount to a major victory for Trump as he heads into the 2020 election. Perhaps more important, the experimental measures taken by his administration could reshape immigration enforcement for years to come.

Harris unveils her criminal justice reform plan ahead of the third Democratic debate

Kamala Harris on Monday unveiled a sweeping blueprint to overhaul the criminal justice system, including ending federal mandatory minimum sentences and pushing states to do the same, terminating the death penalty and solitary confinement, and phasing out for-profit prisons and cash bail.

Harris’ criminal justice plan, which the California senator and former prosecutor is billing as a re-envisioning of public safety in America, would also end the sentencing disparity between crack and powder cocaine that reformers believe is rooted in prejudice, and legalize marijuana at the federal level.

Halperin’s comeback attempt is not going as planned

Disgraced political pundit Mark Halperin was very unhappy when MSNBC brass nixed his attempt to repair his career through a possible collaboration with the stars of Morning Joe. So he picked up the phone and called network chief Phil Griffin.

It did not go well.

Multiple sources tell The Daily Beast that the conversation earlier this year became acrimonious, with Halperin dishing up vague threats against his former boss.

MSNBC declined to comment on the episode. But MSNBC insiders said Griffin was furious about the conversation and wouldn’t likely take Halperin’s calls in the future. 

The hostile exchange was a sign of Halperin’s frustration that his dream of returning to the punditry business—almost two years after numerous women came forward with stories of sexual misconduct—has been thwarted at each turn.

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