WASHINGTON - Republican National Committee (RNC) Political Director Chris Carr held a press conference call today to discuss the RNC ground game. Excerpts of his remarks can be found below.
"Hello everyone and welcome to the call.
"Before we get into the field report just want to mention on behalf of the RNC, our thoughts and prayers are with everyone down in Florida. As someone that grew up on the Gulf Coast in Louisiana, I fully understand what the preparations are about the hardship that it causes families and folks. So we wish everyone well in Florida and that they all remain safe.
"Also, we have decided to suspend all of our voter contact as of yesterday at noon just so that our staff can make plans and preparations for the storm.
"We are 33 days out until Election Day and our ground game is running full steam ahead as it plays an integral part in helping Republicans win at all levels this year.
"I briefly wanted to start by giving some background about the RNC’s ground game efforts as a whole.
"As you’ve probably read, our ground game is working hand in glove with the Trump campaign to complement their operation. The RNC is doing most of the heavy lifting for the Trump campaign to get voters to the polls this year.
"This is the realization of Chairman’s Priebus’s vision when we decided to start building a completely new field organization back in 2013.
"For several years the RNC has been building a national, permanent ground game, and keeping organizers in key states working to engage, register, and turn out voters while building our data file.
"The fact that the GOP has been in the field permanently for years means we have had a tremendous head start on the Clinton campaign and are still in the lead.
"Before Clinton had staff focused on the general election, the RNC’s staff, organizers, and volunteers had tallied well over 1.2 million hours of organizing. That’s the equivalent to 50,000 days, or 137 years of organizing.
"Now to absentee and early voting.
"There are some concerning trends for Democrats across key battleground states.
"Republicans have put in nearly 335,000 more requests for absentee ballots this year than they did in 2012.
"Republicans continue to hold a sizeable lead with 84,435 request advantage in absentee ballots over the Democrats.
"Republicans out-requested Democrats yesterday by nearly 5,000 ballots, continuing the trend of Democrats’ underperformance in absentee ballots requested compared to 2012.
"Democrat requests are 51% smaller than at this time in 2012.
"Based on RNC Data, Republicans have built a 59,000 absentee ballot request margin, outpacing Democrat daily requests by an average of 1,642 per day for the past two weeks.
"This is a flip from the previous two weeks where Democrats were leading.
"Republicans out-requested Democrats by a margin of 1,902 over the past 3 days, increasing Republicans’ advantage here.
"Republicans have been consistently gaining ground posting gains 11 of the past 14 days to trim the Democrat advantage to less than 1,000 in state that’s gone Blue for the last 2 decades.
"In a state like Iowa, Democrats need to run up the score in AB/EV and they’re underperforming their margins compared to 2012. This is a positive for us and concerning for the Clinton campaign.
"One of our ground game’s revived areas is voter registration, which was something we previously had not done in 10 years.
"There are lots of positive results to point to:
"In September, Republicans out registered Democrats in Pennsylvania, Iowa, and New Mexico.
"Republicans added nearly 30,000 new voters to our ranks in PA alone.
2012 v. 2016 Voter Registration
- Florida Net: +261,715
- Iowa Net: +38,913
- Nevada Net: +12,720
- North Carolina Net: +173,785
- Pennsylvania Net: +223,552
"One thing to note is that because of Hurricane Matthew off the coast we are rolling back efforts on the ground in Florida and North Carolina. Our staff is still cranking out voter contact at a breakneck pace.
"Past week & a half: Roughly 2 million doors
"Another great asset we’ve launched for voter registration is vote.gop.
"This is our in-house, one stop shop website in which voters get all the information they need to register to vote, request an absentee ballot, or commit to vote.
"What’s great is we can see what steps registrants are taking and we have the technology to track them and follow up with them as we determine how far along they are in the voter registration.
"We have a great advantage over the Democrats’ equivalent website. The Dems’ website redirects users to various state portals to complete their registration. Ours keeps everything in house and we can be of much greater help to the user and establishes stronger “chase universes” (which are digital means of following up with users).
"Ultimately we are going to keep our foot on the gas and continue our work of engaging voters, building relationships with them, registering them to vote, and making sure they come out to vote Republican up and down the ticket on November 8th."
Question and Answer:
Leigh Ann Caldwell (NBC News)
Q. "Hey, thanks for holding the call. I see you guys outlined a lot of strengths that you have going for you. So, continuing on that, what states specifically do you feel the strongest as far as electoral outcome? And then secondly, where do you think you need to make up in the next 33-32 days?"
A. "Thank you for joining the call. We're seeing positive trends really across the board.
"You take Pennsylvania for example, it was a target state for just a short while in 2012. And look at this cycle, with the number of staff that we have on the ground and we've had on the ground since 2015. You look at the voter registration trends which I just mentioned. That state stands out like so many others.
"In Nevada, the registration trends have been very good.
"In Florida, registration the past two years has been very positive for Republicans where Republicans flipped, I believe, ten counties in Florida. Again, we have seen these voter registration trends since since 2004. Some of it has obviously been organic, some of it has been with the caucus in the primary season, and a lot of it frankly has been our staff and organizers and volunteers out in the field doing the voter registration."
Ivan Couronne (Agence France-Presse)
Q. "What is your expectation in terms of turn out for this election? Robby just said he expected it to be larger than 2008."
A. "It very well could be. When you look at, for instance, Florida, I know Robby had mentioned that there were 2.7 million Floridians that requested to vote by mail. That's absolutely correct.
"And we're seeing an increase across Democrat, Republican and nonpartisan voters. So that's a 66% increase from 2012. When you look at a lot of states, there is a lot of interest, especially among voters who are choosing to vote early versus just on Election Day."
Maeve Reston (CNN)
Q. "Hey Chris. I was just wondering if you could tell us what you are doing/seeing in Colorado since obviously Clinton was ahead in the polls and there were some showing it’s a closer race. Is that on your target list at this point?"
A. "Hey Maeve. Absolutely. Colorado continues to be on our target list. You know we have a staff of the same size if not bigger than 2012. Mr. Trump was just out there in Pueblo a day or two ago. So it continues to be a target state for us where we remain competitive.”