Now, less than 14 months before Election Day, the President’s team is banking his re-election hopes on identifying and bringing to the polls hundreds of thousands of Trump supporters; people in closely contested states who did not vote in Y 2016. The campaign is betting that it may be easier to make voters out of these electoral rarities than to win over millions of Trump skeptics in the center of the electorate.
Tens of millions of Americans choose not to vote in federal races every 2 years, and the President’s campaign is determined to turn out the Trump supporters among them. It views them as an untapped stash of Republican support that can help him in winning over voters in the shrinking political center.
“There’s a new math spurred by a new candidate at the top of his ticket,” a Trump campaign senior political adviser told reporters. “And I think we need to throw out the old way we look at how elections are won and lost.“
The surest predictor for whether someone will vote in the future is whether that person has voted in the past. This political truism has long informed campaign strategies.
Barack Hussein Obama’s campaign in Y 2012 shocked Republican opponents when it attracted Democrats who did not vote in Y 2008.
George W. Bush’s campaign relied on the same tactic in Y 2004. But both campaigns tried to expand their bases while focusing on trying to claim more voters in the center.
“The strategy was never one of simply looking at identifying red Republicans and getting them out to vote,” said Karl Rove, Bush’s strategist. “It was also a campaign of addition and persuasion.”
President Trump’s gambit comes in de-emphasizing the persuasion game as it focuses on boosting turnout.
The Trump Campaign and the Republican National Committee (RNC) have held events geared at reversing an erosion of support for the GOP among women and Latinos.
The central message of the campaign is targeted at those who already support him.
At campaign rallies such as the 1 in North Carolina this week, The Trump Campaign, the RNC and an authorized super political action committee work the long lines outside to register voters.
At a February rally in El Paso, Texas, The Trump Campaign says, 67% of registrants had voted in 2 or fewer of the previous 4 federal elections.
Before a June rally in Orlando, a geo-targeted digital campaign by a Trump super PAC directed about 3,000 people to the state’s voter registration website.
“We know from data gathered from rallies that a significant percentage of rally registrants and attendees have voted infrequently in federal elections, but they are motivated to come out to see President Trump,” said Trump campaign communications director Tim Murtaugh.
The Key for President Trump is to find the right non-voters those who already support the President. Overall, those who do ot vote tend to be younger, non-White, less educated and more likely to vote for Democrats than those who regularly cast ballots.
A Pew Research Center analysis of survey data found that the composition of registered voters who did not vote in Y 2016 skewed Democratic Vs Republican, 55% to 41% respectively.
President Trump’s campaign has huge sums of money and talent at its disposal and the GOP’s trove of political and consumer data on all eligible voters in the country provides the pro-Trump effort a head start.
The task is to identify likely Trump supporters in places such as Escambia County in Florida’s Panhandle, where more than 75,000 eligible voters didn’t cast ballots and those who did voted for Trump by a 3-to-2 margin. President Trump won the state by 112,000 votes.
In Michigan, which President Trump carried by 11,000 votes, there is opportunity in places such as the GOP stronghold of Ottawa County west of Grand Rapids. As many as 50,000 eligible voters did not cast ballots in Y 2016, according to an analysis of voter data, and President Trump won the county by a 2-to-1 margin.
The President’s team is betting that bringing more voters in will pack more of a punch than converting the ballot-going faithful.
“You have a massive pool of people who are less participatory and the more of those people you can engage into the election, the better your chances of victory are,” said Brian Walsh of the Trump super PAC America First Principles. “You’re still going to try to move those swing voters, but how well you need to do is vastly different depending on how many people you bring in.”
If all goes according to plan, Mr. Walsh said, President Trump could lose the whole swing vote and still win the election.
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