Hillary Clinton commits resources to Georgia, Arizona

Posted at 1:23 PM, Aug 09, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-09 16:23:22-04

Hillary Clinton is expanding her presidential battleground map to include the traditionally Republican states of Georgia and Arizona, -- another sign that Republican Donald Trump's missteps have Democrats contemplating a November landslide that could help the party in down-ballot contests.

Party officials in Arizona and Georgia say Clinton campaign lieutenants told them Monday that the Democratic nominee would start spending money on staff in the two states, which combine for 27 electoral votes, a tenth of the total needed to win the presidency.

Another person with knowledge of the campaign's plans said the initial investment will be six figures. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the person was not authorized to speak publicly about campaign strategy.

The move comes amid a national shift in Clinton's favor since the July party conventions. Polls suggest Clinton has widened her national lead over Trump and positioned herself to compete even in some traditionally GOP-leaning states.

Rebecca DeHart, the Georgia Democratic Party's executive director who spoke with Clinton campaign leaders, said details of the new spending are still being worked out. She said the money would expand existing party field operation that already includes eight offices and dozens of employees.

"This is something we've been building toward for quite some time," she said.

Arizona's Democratic Party hopes to double the number of field organizers it has on staff with Clinton's infusion, according to state party Chairwoman Alexis Tameron.

"A little money can go a long way," Tameron said.

DeHart and Tameron said Clinton aides have not disclosed whether they plan any local-market television advertising as part of the latest campaign expansion. The campaign already is reaching Arizona and Georgia voters through national cable television and digital ad buys.

President Barack Obama lost Arizona by 9 percentage points and 8.5 points in his two campaigns; he lost Georgia by 5 points and 8 points. But the states have growing non-white populations that favor Democrats, and Trump continues to struggle among white college-educated Republicans -- factors that give Clinton an opening Obama did not have.

Georgia has not sided with the Democratic nominee since Bill Clinton's 1992 election. Arizona last appeared in the Democratic win column in 1996.

Both states also have Republican senators up for re-election this fall. John McCain, seeking his sixth term in Arizona, faces perhaps the toughest race of his career.  Johnny Isakson remains favored to win a third term in Georgia.

Trump, meanwhile, still has bare-bones staff across battleground states, leaning heavily on what the Republican National Committee and state parties already have in place.