I do not expect Ted Cruz to win the New Hampshire primary. It is possible, but it is not probable. I’d put the odds on Trump or Rubio.
But I have been studying the Ted Cruz ground game in South Carolina and it is a sight to behold.
We saw the Ted Cruz ground game in Iowa this past Monday, which surprised a whole lot of people. The pollsters failed. The Donald Trump phenomenon, “You’ll get tired of winning!” schtick got punched in the face and that which was old became new again.
For the last ten years the Republican Party, captured by consultants more eager to earn money than win, has moved away from the nuts and bolts that win elections and by that I mean voter identification and Get Out The Vote mechanisms.
The ground game component of politics is hard. It takes work. It doesn’t have the flash of slick TV ads.
But it works and when done correctly, it works extremely well.
It’s no secret that Ted Cruz and his campaign have built a campaign from the ground up. This is not, however, the old clip board type of campaigning. Using a top end data analytics company, Cambridge Analytica, the Cruz team has for months been building out a modern version of retail politics. As the campaign manager, Jeff Roe, noted the other day in Iowa, they knew how many votes they needed in certain counties and the exact number they were shooting for with days to go. And guess what? They weren’t surprised when they won on Monday night.
Not only is the Cruz campaign ahead of the curve on the ground, their super PAC, Keep the Promise, is as well. It’s no secret they were on the ground in Iowa starting this past fall. But it’s not just Iowa. The Keep the Promise Super PAC already has over 100 paid block walkers on the ground in South Carolina and has them there since last November. I am told they are also positioned similarly in many of the March 1st SEC states and are building efforts out further in the calendar as well.
Which means in the end, the campaigns competing against Ted Cruz aren’t just up against his campaign on the ground. They are up against his super PAC and likely behind the curve to both entities.
The data being collected by the campaign and super PACs for Cruz is impressive. In separate conversations, I have been told the collective “Team Cruz”, which are the campaign and super PACs fire walled from each other and unable to coordinate, are criss crossing South Carolina and other SEC Primary states.
For example, data I have seen in South Carolina leads me to believe that the Keep the Promise side of Team Cruz will have touched almost every likely primary voter by March 1st. They are doing literature drops, getting voters to answer questions, then feeding that data into a system that identifies Cruz’s most likely voters so they can get them back out.
Concurrently, based on conversations with the Cruz campaign, the campaign is doing some of the same work, which means voters might get approached multiple times. Studies actually show that this helps voters connect to candidates and reminds them to vote.
From what I have seen on the ground of the various Cruz efforts, there is some duplication because they cannot coordinate, but all sides of the operation are leveraging very precise data to generate massive ground game operations. I do not know that the other campaigns have it. If Cruz does not win New Hampshire, as I and most people suspect, he will be able to bounce into South Carolina with a professional outside operation that has done really, really impressive work.