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Eye On Candidates
April 8, 2016

Trump Campaign Gets Serious On Delegate Strategy

The campaign of businessman Donald Trump has largely focused on dominating the media and holding large rallies, neglecting some of the organization-building that past successful candidates have typically engaged in. As it looks more like the Republican nomination may be decided by uncommitted delegates and need multiple ballots, the Trump campaign yesterday announced that it putting more responsibility and authority in the hands of the veteran operative brought in to  steer their delegate operation:

Trump expands role for delegate-focused adviser

Looking to resolve a growing power struggle within his campaign, Donald Trump announced Thursday he is expanding the role of Paul Manafort, the senior adviser recently hired to assist with corralling delegates ahead of what will likely be a contested GOP convention in July.

Hours after canceling a Friday news conference that had been scheduled in the Los Angeles area, Trump's campaign issued a statement that he is "consolidating the functions related to the nomination process and assigning them to" Manafort, who "will oversee, manage, and be responsible for all activities that pertain to Mr. Trump’s delegate process and the Cleveland Convention."

The article points to the frustration many had apparently been feeling towards the campaign manager and the earlier delegate efforts:

According to multiple sources, Manafort has been frustrated since joining the campaign by the lack of cooperation from Lewandowski and his closest associates on the campaign.

Some Trump supporters, concerned that Lewandowski and his team have failed to lock up bound delegates even in states they have won, have been calling for leadership changes in recent days as the campaign is confronting increasingly difficult delegate math and staring at a floor fight in Cleveland.

And NBC News story this morning refers to the Trump campaign's delegate efforts in Colorado last night as "chaotic" and "overwhelmed" by the Cruz campaign:

After a shake-up at the top this week in which Trump empowered Paul Manafort to manage the campaign's troubled delegate operation, Sen. Ted Cruz swept a third straight Congressional District convention Thursday night. All three delegates selected were listed on a slate put forward by the Cruz campaign....

Addressing the audience, Trump's new Colorado state director Patrick Davis told supporters to vote for the three pro-Trump delegate candidates on a glossy brochure the campaign distributed....

There was only one problem: Two of the three names weren't listed on the ballot....

After some digging, Davis returned with a solution to the mystery of the missing delegates. One of the delegates had failed to pay the necessary fee to get on the ballot. He assumed the other was left off for similar reasons.

The article notes that Davis only joined the campaign on Tuesday evening, after the Trump campaign fired it's previous state director on Saturday, allegedly as part of a power struggle between Lewandowski and Manafort.

CNN reports this morning that the Trump campaign's newfound focus on organization and delegate hunting will face it's first big test in New York's primary on April 19:

There are 95 delegates at stake in the state's April 19 primary, where Trump has a wide lead. He picked up support from 52% of GOP primary voters in New York in a recent Monmouth University poll -- well ahead of John Kasich at 25% and Ted Cruz at 17%.

But if Trump wants to turn it into a winner-take-all victory -- or at least come close -- his campaign will need to work to win more than 50% statewide as well as in congressional districts. Eighty-one of the state's 95 delegates are bound to the winners of each of New York's 27 congressional districts. Trump will need to win a majority of support in each district -- or keep his opponents from reaching the 20% threshold -- to keep all the delegates to himself....

That's why the campaign on Thursday announced 17 New York campaign co-chairs -- including two congressmen -- spread throughout the state, who will help coordinate the campaign's targeted congressional district efforts and serve as local media surrogates.

The Trump campaign has insisted for some time that it didn't need the same sort of organizational effort that his rivals required. Now that it is becoming apparent that it does, the big question is, is this too little, too late?