Trump has fewer offices than previous Republican presidential candidates. Mitt Romney, the 2012 candidate, had 24 offices in North Carolina, and he won the state.
Rick Henderson, editor-in-chief of the Carolina Journal, said a possible reason for the lower number of Trump field offices is that the funding for them has to come from the Republican National Committee.
“In previous elections, presidential campaigns have provided funding for their own field operations — it’s very unusual that the national party is having to do that,” he said.
Joshua Darr, an assistant professor of political communication at Louisiana State University, said research shows field offices can increase a candidate’s vote share by one to two percent in any given area, which could pay off in a close race.
“If it’s as close as it’s shaping up to be in this election, then having invested more seriously in field organizations certainly won’t hurt Clinton if she ends up pulling out a victory in the state.”
Clinton is currently leading Trump by three percent in North Carolina according to the RealClearPolitics polling average.
Henderson said additional field offices would allow the Trump campaign to go door-to-door to turn out voters. But as of right now, he said maintaining a presence in the state is a more realistic option to increase his votes.
“At this point, it may just be down to how many personal appearances he and his vice presidential nominee, Mike Pence, and other family members can make in the state,” he said.
Jacob Smith, a doctoral candidate in the UNC political science department, said the number of Clinton offices is typical for a traditional presidential campaign.
“The Clinton campaign is running the sort of campaign that you would expect,” he said. “It’s a fairly conventional campaign in the terms of having lots of field offices to turn out voters.”
Smith said a majority of the Trump campaign’s offices are located in heavily populated areas which tend to vote for Democrats.
“The Trump campaign may be advised to focus more on rural areas,” he said.
At the same time, Smith said concentrating campaign offices in rural areas may cause problems due to the fewer number of voters available.
Darr said the Clinton campaign has little to no field competition in places like Durham, Greensboro and Fayetteville, all of which President Barack Obama won a majority of the votes in 2012.
“She’s basically going to be able to run-up the score in these areas, and Trump is not opposing her there,” he said.