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Ground game efforts were down from 2012, and voters were as likely to report a Republican contact as a Democratic one.

Much has been written about the 2016 presidential campaigns’ “ground game” efforts — their work to knock on voters’ doors, call them at home, and otherwise directly convince people to vote for their candidates. We look at this from the perspective of the voters, who report on how much they were contacted by the various campaigns. Fewer voters, it seems, were contacted in 2016 than in other recent presidential campaigns, and there was no real advantage for one party over the other.

Attention to the ground game has become a conspicuous feature of presidential campaigning in the 21st century. Realizing the importance of mobilizing their partisan base in the closely contested presidential elections, both parties have stepped up their ground games in battleground states. Ground game efforts always have had a prominent place in American election campaigns, especially for the iconic urban political machines, but they did not become a strategic priority at the presidential level until recent elections.

The strategic importance of ground game efforts, though, was challenged in the 2016 presidential race. The Trump campaign, enjoying an avalanche of free media and promoting large-audience rallies, appeared to be eschewing conventional ground game activities. As demonstrated in a recent post by Joshua Darr, the Clinton campaign seemed to place less emphasis on the ground game as well — opening considerably fewer field offices, the key coordinator of grassroots contacts, than the Obama campaign had done four and especially eight years before.

Our research complements the focus on field offices as key elements in the ground game by turning its lens to reports of campaign contacts by the electorate itself. It is based on responses to Read More Here