Take a look at these registration numbers from key states and tell me whether or not Donald Trump might have benefitted from an actual ground game:
Take the critical battleground of North Carolina, for example. Between June 2015 and today, total registrations have increased 5.4 percent in the 70 counties where whites without a college degree make up a majority of eligible voters (Romney carried those counties with 62 percent). But in the 30 other less white, better-educated counties, registrations have increased 6.8 percent over the same period (Obama carried those with 59 percent of the vote).
The story is the same in Pennsylvania. Since May 2015, registrations have increased 4.9 percent in the 63 counties where a majority of potential voters are non-college-educated white people. But in the other four counties (Philadelphia, Delaware, Montgomery and Chester), registrations have risen 6.3 percent. Those four more-cosmopolitan counties combined for an Obama margin of 611,724 votes in 2012, nearly twice his statewide margin of victory.
In Florida, registration growth has been roughly even across the map: It’s up 4.7 percent in the 53 counties where a majority of voters are non-college-educated whites (58 percent Romney) since June 2015, versus 4.4 percent in the other 14 counties that are more diverse or well-educated (58 percent Obama). But Florida also tracks registration by race, and non-whites have accounted for 59 percent of the state’s net registration growth since November 2014.
In Virginia, the disparity is even greater. Between June 2015 and the end of August, net registrations have increased just 2.9 percent in the 85 white, non-college-graduate majority localities (58 percent Romney), versus 4.8 percent in the 48 other localities (57 percent Obama).
There may be multiple factors contributing to these numbers, but one of them is surely that Clinton and the Democrats have organizers on the ground and a sophisticated plan for registering their voters, while Trump is relying almost wholly on the RNC and doesn’t seem to believe that he needs to engage in the nuts and bolts of running a presidential campaign.
In any case, it appears that Trump is losing ground from where Romney fought and lost in 2012. If Trump is going to win, it will be persuading a lot of Obama voters to go for him because he hasn’t inspired a disproportionate wave of disengaged white working class voters to go out and get themselves registered.