Bernie Built a Nevada Ground Game Overnight, But It Wasn’t Enough

Bernie Sanders would like your money

Perhaps the state wasn’t quite the “firewall” the Clinton campaign had hoped, but Hillary still pulled off a win in this weekend’s Nevada caucuses. This result came despite a late Sanders surge, fueled both by his strong showing in Iowa and New Hampshire and by a recent investment in voter turnout:

Since late December, Sanders has spent twice as much money as Clinton on television ads and, with over 100 staffers and 12 field offices, he now has more resources on the ground.

That fundraising prowess — and the ability to build such a large organization so fast — has taken many in the Clinton orbit by surprise…..

The money is what allowed the Sanders campaign to build fast and capitalize on the grass-roots support.

“When I first started, we had one office,” said Kato, who joined the campaign in November. “In a month, we had six, then in another month we had 12. Even in rural areas like Elko, we had 45 people show up to an office opening.”

Alas for Sanders, his late investment did not pay off in full, and today he pointed to low voter turnout (compared with 2008) as the reason:

“We did not do as good a job as I had wanted to bring out a large turnout.”

Perhaps Nevada simply wasn’t as good a fit for his messaging as he’d hoped, or maybe Clinton’s long-term attention to the state paid off. Regardless, his campaign’s ablity to create a GOTV operation quickly bodes well for his prospects later in the primary season. Technology helps, in big ways and little: grassroots data tools like the VAN let organizers get moving as soon as they hit the ground, and even something as simple as VOIP and cell phones take away some of the logistical hassle of setting up field offices.

Clinton’s team has long been planning beyond the first four primary states, too, though, so look for a prolonged ground war in the months to come. Also planning for the long haul? Ted Cruz. Let’s see if he can shake off a South Carolina loss by Super Tuesday. Unlike Jeb!, at least he’s still in the game.


Written by
Colin Delany
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