Balloons descend on delegates following Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney's speech to delegates during the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., on Thursday, Aug. 30, 2012. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

Some Hope for the GOP

I don’t know that I would cast this as hope particularly for Donald Trump, but it is definitely hopeful for the GOP that Republican voter registration is outpacing Democrat registration in a number of battlegrounds. In Florida, Iowa, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania, all of which have contested Senate races this year, the GOP registration numbers are beating the Democrats. In all of the states, Clinton is tied with or well ahead of Trump in polling averages, but the GOP Senate races will definitely be helped regardless of Trump.

Likewise, I suspect the left overplayed its hand in North Carolina with the transgender bathroom issue. That has mobilized churches that were otherwise sitting out 2016.

That result illustrates the value of concerted registration efforts, but also points to a larger problem for Trump. The political neophyte has largely ignored his ground operation and delegated the bulk of it to the Republican National Committee, which is falling short of its target staffing levels in state after state. Republicans and right-leaning groups have been working to catch up to the left’s advantage in mobilizing new registrants — achieved largely by targeting minorities and students — but in all eight battleground states for which POLITICO reviewed historical data, Democrats’ registration spread improved between the beginning of the general election period in mid-2012 and Election Day in November (a pattern that can also be attributed, in part, to the absence of a Democratic presidential primary that year).

And Trump’s biggest fans have already had the chance to register to vote for him in the Republican primary, meaning that pool may be tapped out, while those most motivated to vote against him still have time to register.

But anecdotal evidence reveals he is attracting newcomers, motivated both to vote for and against him.

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Erick Erickson

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