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Donald Trump campaign and RNC are confident in Florida campaign

in 2017/Top Headlines by

On the last day of early voting in Florida, the Donald Trump campaign and the RNC expressed confidence in the Sunshine State ground game.

Yet questions remain even after a Sunday morning press call regarding the Florida effort.

Ahead of the call with representatives from the Republican National Committee and the Trump campaign, Team Trump circulated stats that said Trump was outperforming the Mitt Romney campaign of 2012.

Republicans comprise 1.4 percent more of the early vote share than at this point in 2012, said the Trump campaign. Democrats are trending 5 percent below 2012.

While the GOP is 7,000 votes behind in total ballots cast, the party was 100,000 ballots back at this point in 2012.

This is a “remarkable improvement,” and “erases” the 74,309-vote margin of Romney’s defeat.

Questions have been raised about the Trump ground game, and these issues didn’t abate in light of a last-minute appeal to hire canvassers throughout Florida, paying them up to $25 an hour. And questions have also been raised about the lack of coordination between the national campaign and local offices.

Despite these issues, the state of the Florida ground game is still sound, say RNC and Trump officials.

Campaign manager Kellyanne Conway noted that the Trump campaign is “above where we were in Florida” four years ago.

“We like our internal and external polling in Florida,” Conway said, noting that the campaign is a “lot closer” than in 2012 regarding absentee and early votes.

[For what it’s worth, a senior source with the Trump campaign noted that the internals showed in recent days a four-point increase in Trump’s relative position compared to Hillary Clinton; however, that source did not represent Trump in the lead].

Others spoke of Florida more generally, in the context of battleground states.

“Historically, Democrats win early voting, yet Republicans turn out in droves on Election Day,” said the Trump campaign’s David Bossie.

RNC Field Director Chris Young added that there is a “much greater capacity” for ground game than in previous cycles, with an “unexpected surge in volunteer participation” and an expected “very productive Sunday” in the field.

Door knocking and phones, said Young, exemplify a “ground game that is firing on all cylinders.”

Not all media outlets — including this one — received the opportunity to ask questions.

Yet questions remain.

One such query: is there a deviation between the “likely voter” model used by pollsters and the Trump campaign’s effort to expand the universe of the electorate to include first-time and infrequent voters?

Another such question: did the choice of Susie Wiles to replace Karen Giorno atop the Florida campaign result in meaningful improvements/refinements of strategy?

And a third such question: given the influx of predominantly Democratic Puerto Rican voters throughout the I-4 corridor, does the Trump campaign have a strategy to counterbalance that? Can the numbers be run up to such a degree throughout North Florida to offset that?

Conway said that the Trump campaign sees six paths to 270 electoral votes. All those paths would have to include Florida. Yet questions remain about enthusiasm.

Ultimately, those will be answered Tuesday.

A.G. Gancarski has written a weekly column for Jacksonville’s Folio Weekly since 2003. His writings on politics, culture, and sport have appeared in the Washington Times, the Daily Caller, and the American Conservative. His radio and TV appearances include frequent contributions to WJCT-FM (Jacksonville’s Public Radio station); additionally, he has been a guest on Huff Post Live and the Savage Nation radio show. Gancarski can be reached at a.g.gancarski@gmail.com.

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