- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 12, 2019

Impeachment is backfiring on Democrats by motivating more voters and donors to support President Trump as his campaign operation expands into 17 battleground states, campaign officials said Thursday.

“They have ignited a flame underneath that, with 300-some days to go, actually makes our job easier in some ways,” Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale told reporters. “This lit up our base. Turnout for our rallies has increased since the impeachment process started. I think it’s a huge miscalculation by [Democrats].”

Officials said not only is impeachment generating more Trump campaign volunteers and cash donations, it’s also swaying independent voters in swing states who want the election, instead of an impeachment investigation, to decide who will be the next president.

In a briefing near the Trump campaign headquarters in Arlington, Virginia, senior campaign officials laid out details of their field operations and fundraising for 2020. The campaign has $93 million in the bank and a goal of 2 million volunteers in the 17 states that will decide the election.

In 2016, the Trump campaign focused on 11 states.



Mr. Parscale also said the campaign has been working hard to overcome what he called deliberate “voter suppression activity” by Google and other Silicon Valley companies targeting the Trump campaign. Twitter has banned political ads, and Mr. Parscale also cited Google’s announcement late last month that it would no longer allow political advertisers to target voters beyond basic demographics such as gender, age and location — barring a campaign from targeting users based on email list uploads or interests.

“There are places that are so liberal, they’re so progressive, that they even think giving us an opportunity to talk to our voters is something they need to stop, because it’s their virtuous and righteous thing to do in this world,” Mr. Parscale said. “What Google has just done would be no different than the phone companies taking our phone list and saying ‘You can’t call your voters.’ That is a complete voter suppression activity.”

He said the campaign has guarded against such limitations by compiling “tens of millions of phone numbers” and other direct-contact information from supporters and expanding its ground operation.

“We will be ready, and we have done the proper things that, even if Silicon Valley decides they want to shut us off in every way, we have plans to get around anything they want to do,” Mr. Parscale said. “They can’t take away from [us] knocking on doors. They’re a day late and a dollar short … Long term, I think they’re going to reverse on this, because not only are they hurting us, they’re hurting the Bernie Sanders of the world, and they’re hurting those on the other side who need to talk to their people across the country. This is just a deep state … establishment activity to make sure that establishment candidates have the biggest voice.”

The reelection campaign is especially targeting about 8.8 million voters who were very supportive of Mr. Trump in 2016 but didn’t vote in the midterm elections in 2018, when Democrats took back the House from the GOP.

“I promise you they will show up in 2020,” a senior campaign official said.

Voter registration, in conjunction with the Republican National Committee, also is a key part of the campaign’s strategy — finding likely Trump voters at rallies and other events who haven’t voted in years. Since June, the campaign has registered 38,119 new voters, with a goal of roughly 200,000 by Election Day.

The 2020 general election will be fought in 17 states: Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Texas, Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, North Carolina, Georgia, Florida, New Hampshire and Maine. One official said there is “quiet confidence” at campaign headquarters that Mr. Trump will receive more electoral votes than the 304 he captured in 2016.

“We have several paths to victory now,” said a senior campaign official. “We have a lot of opportunities this time.”

Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser, said of the Democratic field of contenders, “We don’t see anyone who can put together the Obama coalition. We’re on offense everywhere and we’re very excited about that.”

The Trump campaign has about 300 paid staffers in field offices across the country, but is placing more of an emphasis on an army of volunteers arranging “meetups,” essentially neighborhood house parties to mobilize support. There are also 110 paid campaign staffers at headquarters.

Their goal by Election Day is to hold 25,000 volunteer-led house parties in those 17 states. To date, the campaign has held 3,059 house parties with a total of 40,806 attendees.

Analyzing election data from 2016, campaign officials say Mr. Trump’s strength in small counties in states such as Wisconsin and Pennsylvania will serve as a formidable firewall against any lackluster showing in urban areas such as Milwaukee or in suburban swing districts such as Bucks County, north of Philadelphia.

They also confirmed that the “hidden Trump voter” will be a factor again in 2020. Campaign officials explained that by showing that Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney in 2012 received votes from roughly 3% of people who viewed him unfavorably, but in 2016, Mr. Trump averaged anywhere from 12% to 19% support from voters who rated him unfavorably. In Wisconsin in 2016, 21% of voters who said they viewed Mr. Trump unfavorably voted for him anyway.

It’s one reason that Trump campaign officials say polling generally underestimates support for the president.

“They may not love the guy, but they think he’s the right cure for the country’s ills,” a senior campaign official said, offering a possible reason for the phenomenon. “The left has made it not necessarily easy to be a Trump supporter. We were laughed at when we talked about the ‘hidden Trump voter.’ This validates that the hidden Trump vote was real in 2016, and it validates that the hidden Trump vote is real in 2020.”

He said traditional polling methods of measuring approval “don’t necessarily apply to a candidate like Donald Trump who is completely unique.”

Campaign officials also noted that Mr. Trump’s approval rating is slightly better than President Obama’s was at the same point in 2011 heading into his reelection.

The campaign has created outreach efforts for women, workers, veterans, black and Hispanic voters with plans to launch similar efforts for evangelicals, Catholics, “Jewish voices,” and “cops for Trump.”

⦁ Tom Howell Jr. contributed to this report.

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