Grassroots appeal?

Lost in all the bluster of the Donald Trump phenomenon is the fact he doesn’t really have much of a grassroots organization, at least until now. But in my e-mailbox is the first indication that’s about to change.

The Trump movement that swept the nation and changed Republican politics forever has finally arrived in Maryland. Supporters of Donald J. Trump announced today a grassroots campaign to organize neighborhood outreach and meetings in every Congressional District in Maryland.

Marking their calendar for the CNBC-hosted Republican debate scheduled for October 28 (8 pm), the Maryland For Trump campaign is asking Trump supporters to join debate-watch parties across the state and rally for their candidate.

Pointing to a recent statement by Breitbart, Maryland political activist Ruth Melson noted: “The most important reason that Donald Trump should be the Republican nominee is that America needs a course correction!

Ms. Melson further noted: “Maryland is of little consequence in Republican politics.  We are now rallying for Trump because he can win Maryland in November 2016.  Trump is the only Republican who can win the General Election.”  (Emphasis in original.)

That’s interesting because Trump trails both Hillary and Bernie Sanders in the RCP average – on the other hand, Jeb Bush, Carly Fiorina, and Ben Carson lead Clinton in hypothetical matchups, albeit some of the polling is three months old. Nationally, though, Carson has edged ahead of Trump among GOP voters.

Both Carson and Trump have wide swaths of somewhat disorganized supporters who seem to exist in their own vacuums for the most part. Because they have won elected office, others like Rand Paul or Ted Cruz have their own support organizations left over from previous runs – in their cases, the votes were cast in one state but the campaigns were nationwide. Most of the others in the race have similar networks, some cultivated from previous presidential runs.

Yet aside from his immigration stance and his slogan, supporters might be hard-pressed to come up with what Donald Trump stands for. Certainly he’s the most polarizing figure in the race, with a significant percentage stating they wouldn’t vote for Trump under any circumstances. That grassroots is arguably just as devoted as the Trumpets are.

I know it’s anecdotal evidence, but in dealing with over 300 people who came to our booth during the recent festivals I found a good number of Trump supporters but also a batch who would have filled an “anyone but Trump” jar. This was either because they thought he was an a–hole or because they regarded the whole thing as a sideshow.

With just a few months left before the primary, the Trump campaign may be getting the hint they have to cater to actual voters on the ground. Celebrity can get a lot of people to a rally, but those with a casual interest want to know what is in it for them. Trump dishes out what he thinks is red meat, but to me it’s all sizzle and no steak with no ground game.