Hillary Clinton wants to turn red states blue. The Democratic Party’s presumptive nominee plans to station paid staff in every state as part of her general election fight for the White House, whether the territory is friendly or hostile. If the strategy survives the election, it could strengthen the power and influence of the Democratic Party across the country.
Democrats have had a monopoly on the White House under President Obama, but the party has seen devastating losses in state legislatures across the country during his time in office. Will Clinton reverse the trend? The extent to which she invests in her party could matter a great deal. Presidents can do a lot to either hurt or help their party, according to Daniel Galvin, a professor at Northwestern University who has written extensively on presidential party-building. “The campaign becomes the main vortex into which resources get pulled,” Galvin said. “Presidential candidates get to decide whether to use that major event to help the party develop over the long-term, or keep the focus strictly on their campaigns and let the gains evaporate once the election is over.”
To start, investing in a 50-state strategy could put Democrats in a better position to take advantage of the electoral uncertainty created by Donald Trump. There are certainly indications that Trump may be a weak general-election candidate. As my colleague David Graham points out: “For most intents and purposes, there appears to be no Trump campaign.” For now, “the Trump campaign is leaning on the RNC [Republican National Committee] for help to an unusual degree,” according to MSNBC, “but it can only provide so much support.”