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President Trump’s political army flexes muscle across Maine

A Trump Victory team member trains a group of volunteers for President Trump on using an app on their smart phones to track their work for the day.

BANGOR – A year ahead of the 2020 Presidential election, President Donald Trump’s political army is on the march across Maine. Across the nation, the Republican National Committee and Trump Campaign are touting their growing team of volunteers, which they say will be by far the largest, best organized and equipped operation in American political history.

Early Saturday morning, members of the Trump army, a group of Mainers from the Bangor area, gathered in a crowded Dunkin Donuts in Bangor for a quick training on how to use a phone app to track the campaign’s work knocking on doors and talking to voters. Volunteers are also collecting petitions to get President Trump on Maine’s Presidential Nominating Ballot. 

This gathering is just one of many across the country as “Trump Victory”, the name given to the operation which fuses the Trump campaign, the RNC and the state Republican Party into one political fighting force, flexes its muscles and tests its national field infrastructure with a ‘dry run’ GOTV a year out from the 2020 election. 

According to RNC Spokesperson Nina McLaughlin, Trump Victory expects to activate “tens of thousands” volunteers in all 50 states, including Maine. The organization is already working in dozens of communities from Fort Kent to Kittery, each week.

Maine Trump Victory’s largest Day of Action will be on Election Day, when, according to McLaughlin, there will be over 150 volunteer shifts at over two-dozen polling locations collecting signatures to qualify President Trump for the 2020 presidential ballot under a new law signed by Governor Janet Mills.

The ballot access process, which requires President Trump to submit a minimum of 2,000 signatures from registered Maine Republicans, has been underway for a couple weeks. It is well ahead of any of the Democratic candidates and far more organized at this point.

The entire process, even a full year ahead of the 2020 election, builds capacity and support for the President’s political operation, says McLaughlin. It also helps smooth out any problems or challenges that arise. As is stands now, McLaughlin says, the President’s organization is lapping the Democrats on every front: organizing, fundraising, volunteer training, voter registration and more.

McLaughlin’s confidence that Republicans are well ahead of Democrats is at least partially confirmed in a tweet by the reporter Michael Shepherd of the Bangor Daily News. Shepherd tweeted that only one Democrat candidate for President, Andrew Yang, had even asked to collect signatures at polling places in Lewiston, Maine’s second largest city.

Calling November 1st-5th a “National Week of Action” the Republican organization will be testing volunteers’ capabilities one year out, providing metrics and goals for phone calls, door-knocking, and voter contact in each state they work in.

While RNC and Trump campaign tout the 50-state organization, they have invested early in critical states – engaging with supporters and activating an army of volunteers that will be critical to reelecting President Trump and Republicans up and down the ballot. “Building to capacity” a phrase they use to talk about growing the organization with an eye to ultimate success in 2020, is top of mind for organizers and leaders of Trump Victory in Maine.

The infrastructure test now, McLaughlin says, is a critical piece of growing support for all GOP candidates up and down the ballot as the organization moves into an even stronger organization building and voter contact phase going forward.

Maine traditionally has some of the highest turnout rates in the nation. In 2014, the Maine Republican Party won a national “Pollie” award for a program that produced the highest turnout in the nation, re-electing Governor Paul LePage and flipping Maine’s Second Congressional District, they parlayed that success into an electoral college vote for President Trump in 2016 and re-elected Bruce Poliquin in Maine Second District.

But in 2018, despite near-record mid-term turnout among Republicans, Democrats swept into power in Maine with turnout in some areas that exceeded Presidential turnout numbers in many states.

It appears that in 2020, Republicans have an advantage between the all-important turnout machines. While Democrat challengers fight out their primary battle, Republicans say they will be building, building and building some more.

Nationally, Republicans say the efforts by Nancy Pelosi and Democrats to impeach President Trump have created a surge of new volunteers and donors. Based on the numbers the President’s campaign is talking about in Maine, it is happening here too.

That could spell early and persistent trouble for one Maine Democrat.

Rep. Jared Golden, who recently voted in favor of the impeachment inquiry bill, will have to go make the case to voters that he is deserving of being re-elected if Democrats are to hold that seat. Golden is on unsteady ground with voters of his district already, having been elected through the controversial ranked-choice voting method after losing on election night in a district where many voters are deeply skeptical of RCV.

Now Golden, with the President’s massive and growing political army spread out across the district, must contend with any future impeachment votes while hundreds of Trump volunteers and many staffers watch every vote he takes and word he speaks from his district.

Golden’s district went for President Trump by ten points in 2016, and President Trump received the votes of more than 52,000 more voters than Golden did in 2018.

As Maine Examiner reported in an article on Golden’s vote for the impeachment bill, an NRCC Spokesman called Golden’s vote an act of “putting a nail in his political career’s coffin.”

The Trump team isn’t just looking to repeat the success of 2016, however. As one tweet from McLaughlin shows, they want to win all four, not just one electoral college vote in 2020.

Given that in 2020, President Trump is dominating the field on the fundraising front and that the RNC has been organizing for 2020 since just after his January 2017 inauguration, it’s certainly possible.

Trump lost Maine’s statewide vote in 2016 by less than three points with a much smaller field program than he has now and a tiny fraction of the money spent in Maine compared to what he is projected to spend in 2020.

Following are some tweets from members of President Trump’s political team:

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