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Biden bets on a beefed-up campaign operation: From the Politics Desk


Welcome to the online version of From the Politics Desk, an evening newsletter that brings you the NBC News Politics team’s latest reporting and analysis from the campaign trail, the White House and Capitol Hill.

In today’s edition, we examine how Joe Biden is building a massive campaign operation. Plus, national political correspondent puts Donald Trump’s new abortion stance in historical context.

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Biden is beefing up his campaign. Trump appears to be lagging behind. 

By Peter Nicholas, Allan Smith, Vaughn Hillyard, Adam Edelman and Ben Kamisar

President Joe Biden has been scooping up record-making donations and plowing the money into an expanding campaign operation in battleground states that appears to surpass what Donald Trump has built thus far.

Flush with $71 million cash at the end of February — more than twice that of Trump’s campaign — Biden parlayed his fundraising advantage into a hiring spree that now boasts 300 paid staffers across nine states and 100 offices in parts of the country that will decide the 2024 election, according to details provided by the campaign.

Trump’s advisers would not disclose staffing levels, but his ground game still seems to be at a nascent stage. His campaign hired state directors in Pennsylvania and Michigan last week, people familiar with the recruitment process said.

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Combined, the Trump campaign and Republican National Committee have fewer than five staff members in each of the battleground states, said two Republicans familiar with the committee and the Trump campaign’s organizational structures in 2020 and 2024.

At this point in 2020, the Trump Victory organization already had state directors, regional directors and field organizers on the ground in battleground states, testing field operations and activating volunteers, the two people said.

“This is like comparing a Maserati to a Honda — 2020 had staff and the bodies in place to turn out the vote,” one said. “This current iteration is starting from ground zero, and we’re seven months out from the election. It makes no sense and puts them at a huge disadvantage to Biden, who is staffing up in droves.”

The dynamic illustrates how Trump and Biden are waging different bets on the path to victory in November.

Biden’s view is that a muscular campaign operation will impress upon voters that he’s championed popular policies and will propel them to completion if re-elected, his advisers said. The question is whether brick-and-mortar offices and phone banks will be enough to overcome nagging doubts about his age and fitness.

Trump faces a different predicament. His political strength has always been rooted more in an emotional bond with his loyal base than in any political apparatus. He’s running strong in the polls, but is awash in dramas, distractions and several ongoing trials. 

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Trump tries to chip away at the growing gender gap

Analysis by Steve Kornacki

Trump is set to run this fall with an abortion stance that no Republican nominee has taken since 1976 — which, perhaps not coincidentally, was the last election before the emergence of the “gender gap” that has loomed over American politics for decades now.   

Trump announced Monday that he wants the issue left to the states, declining to take a stand on a federal abortion ban. It’s similar to the position that President Gerald Ford staked out when he sought a full term 48 years ago. That was the first presidential election held in the wake of the Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling that had deemed abortion a constitutional right.

In response to that decision, the GOP’s ascendant conservative wing demanded a constitutional amendment to override Roe and prohibit nearly all abortions. But Ford sought a middle ground and argued that Roe should simply be reversed and the matter remanded to each state. While Ford did narrowly lose to Jimmy Carter that year, the most striking feature of the result — at least from today’s vantage point — is the complete lack of a gender gap. Among both men and women, per exit polling data, Carter edged out Ford by the exact same margin.

This hasn’t happened since. Four years later, Ronald Reagan, who had run against Ford from the right in the 1976 primaries, won the GOP nomination and staked out more conservative turf on cultural issues. Out from the GOP platform went support for the Equal Rights Amendment; in was a call to ban abortion through a constitutional amendment. That fall, Reagan defeated Carter in a landslide, but among women his margin was just one point. It was with men that Reagan ran up the score, crushing Carter by 17 points.

The gender gap was born. And as every subsequent GOP platform has pledged support for a “human life amendment” to the Constitution, it has endured.

Certainly, abortion isn’t the sole reason for the gender gap. The 1980 GOP platform was part of a broader rightward shift and a long-term cultural, demographic and geographic reorienting of the party’s coalition. And it’s also true that on the issue of abortion itself, there isn’t a massive gender gap. A Pew Research Center survey last year showed broad support for legal abortion in most or all cases, with men only marginally less supportive than women.

The backdrop for the current abortion debate differs from 1976 in a significant way, with Roe v. Wade now struck down. Still, Trump’s position, like Ford’s, does put him at odds with conservatives who favor federal action to restrict or even outlaw abortion across the country. Whether this will sway any voters in his favor is an open question. But with the gender gap climbing to all-time highs in the last two elections, Trump is calculating that this will at least help him chip away at it.

🗞️ Today’s top stories

  • 🌵 Abortion in Arizona: The Arizona Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that a near-total abortion ban dating back to 1864 is enforceable. Voters in the battleground state may be able to weigh in on the issue this fall, as abortion rights groups seek to place a constitutional amendment on the November ballot. Read more →
  • ☀️ Speaking of Arizona: The Arizona Senate race will be one of the most competitive in the country, and Democratic Rep. Ruben Gallego is making a play for the middle by shirking the “progressive” label. Gallego and Republican Kari Lake also spoke with New York magazine for a deep dive on the race. Read more →
  • 🫸 Major hurdles: Biden has promised to restore Roe v. Wade as part of his re-election campaign, but he would need to defy a litany of challenges to make that happen. Read more →
  • 🏃 High turnover: Election officials are leaving their jobs at the highest rates in decades, new research reveals, putting thousands of new officials in place to oversee a tense and high-stakes 2024 presidential contest. Read more →
  • 🚗 It’s electric: “Bloodbath,” “kill” and “assassination” are some of the words Trump has used to warn about a push toward electric vehicles, a top issue in battleground Michigan. Read more →
  • ⚖️ Impeachment trial delayed: House Speaker Mike Johnson will delay sending articles of impeachment against Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas to the Senate until next week. Read more →
  • 🏀 Toasting a Huskies win: The UConn Huskies’ victory in the NCAA men’s basketball championship over Purdue will also net Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont root beer, a sugar cream pie and a pork tenderloin from Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb. Read more →

That’s all from The Politics Desk for now. If you have feedback — likes or dislikes — email us at

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