DNC begins multi-million 'battleground' investment in six states won by Trump
Posted January 22, 2020 6:05 a.m. EST
CNN — The Democratic National Committee will begin to pour millions of dollars into six battleground states -- Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan, Florida, North Carolina and Arizona -- in preparation for a general election fight against President Donald Trump, the committee announced Wednesday.
The spending -- the first multi-million dollar installment in what the party is calling "The Battleground Build Up 2020" -- represents the initial wave in the DNC's election year battleground spending and signals the states that Democrats believe will be most competitive with Trump on the ballot in November.
Trump won all of the states on the DNC's list, meaning the committee will not, for the time being, deploy money to potentially competitive blue states like New Hampshire, Minnesota and Nevada as part of the program. The list also doesn't include Ohio and Iowa, two states that supported Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012, and then backed Trump in 2016.
The Democratic committee has funded operations in some of these states, namely Nevada, Ohio and Iowa, via other projects, a spokesman for the committee said. Additional states could be added to the program depending on what happens during the 2020 race, according to the spokesman.
"The DNC is making historic, early investments to lay the groundwork for our eventual nominee to win in 2020," DNC chairman Tom Perez told CNN. "We are taking nothing for granted as we work to make Trump a one-term president and win up and down the ballot in 2020."
Perez and the committee hope that the spending -- which will be coordinated through the state Democratic parties -- will allow the party to double the number of field, open additional field offices and fund on-the-ground data operations that will eventually be turned over to the party's eventual nominee.
"These organizers, offices and staff will help our eventual nominee grow their general election operation as quickly as possible and ensure Democrats are reaching out to every voter possible, starting right now," Perez said. "Donald Trump's broken his promises, he's hurt working families at every turn -- and this program will help build the infrastructure we need to beat him."
Hillary Clinton, the Democratic nominee in 2016, openly complained about the lack of party infrastructure, partly blaming it for her loss. The DNC spokesman said there was no comparable investment made by the DNC at this point ahead of the 2016 campaign.
"I'm now the nominee of the Democratic Party. I inherit nothing from the Democratic Party," Clinton said in 2017. "It was bankrupt, it was on the verge of insolvency, its data was mediocre to poor, non-existent, wrong. I had to inject money into it -- the DNC -- to keep it going."
DNC officials said they hope this level of spending will prevent the party's 2020 nominee from being able to credibly make the same criticism.
"The new investment allows state parties to dramatically increase the immediate scale of their coordinated organizing programs and ensures the eventual nominee and the coordinated organizing program will inherit the nuts and bolts infrastructure to scale their organizations quickly," the spokesman said.
Robby Mook, Clinton's campaign manager in 2016, said the investment "represents a big step forward from 2016."
"The DNC's job is to get the party organized and equipped so the nominee has a well-oiled machine as soon as a nominee is chosen," Mook said. "This represents a big step forward from 2016 and its even more vital today, given the time and money Trump has had to prepare his ground game."
The DNC investment comes as the Republican National Committee and Trump's reelection campaign, not having to focus on a competitive primary process, have poured millions into the same six battleground states and long been on TV across the country.
"The RNC and the Trump Campaign are lapping the Democrats on every front - organizing, fundraising, volunteer training, registering voters, and more," said Mandi Merritt, an RNC spokesperson. "Thanks to our permanent data-driven ground game, Trump Victory has never left the key states that will be crucial to delivering President Trump another victory in 2020, and this will make all the difference come Election Day."
The Republican committee has also consistently outraised the Democrats -- including in November, when the DNC raised $8.1 million and the RNC raised $20.6 million. Democrats like Perez argue that their fundraising numbers are less relevant given how much money Democrats are giving to competitive presidential campaigns.