Elizabeth Warren’s campaign disclosed Friday that it has over 1,000 full-time staffers in over 31 states plus the District of Columbia in preparation for a protracted primary slog that goes well beyond the upcoming Iowa caucuses and early states.
“We expect this to be a long nomination fight and have built our campaign to sustain well past Super Tuesday and stay resilient no matter what breathless media narratives come when voting begins,” wrote campaign manager Roger Lau in a memo to supporters Friday. “The four early states contests are just the beginning.”
Lau said the campaign already had “several hundred organizing staffers” in place in states that vote in the weeks after Super Tuesday — hires that took place over the last several months but that the campaign had largely stayed mum about.
The Warren campaign rarely discusses strategy publicly, wary of giving rival campaigns insight into its thinking. But the memo provides a glimpse at the team’s plan to try to win the nomination through a war of attrition, rather than an Iowa knockout. Despite the campaign investing tremendous amounts of the candidate’s time and the campaign’s money in the Iowa caucuses, the memo appears to be an attempt to gird supporters for a potential loss there and the “breathless media narratives” that may accompany that.
Lau’s dispatch plots a path to the nomination that relies on collecting delegates past the early states and even beyond the much-hyped Super Tuesday contests. By then, the field will almost certainly be winnowed some and Warren is likely hoping to collect much of the support from candidates who drop out. That's one of the reasons the campaign has been so focused on being a palatable alternative to supporters of other candidates.
The memo also sheds light on the Warren campaign’s big bet on organizing muscle. At over 1,000 people, she likely has the largest campaign staff of any candidate besides billionaire and former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg. Bernie Sanders’ campaign was closest with over 800 staffers, trailed by Pete Buttigieg with over 500 staffers and Joe Biden with more than 400.
Many Democratic strategists openly questioned whether Warren made a mistake by not running television ads last fall while many of her competitors filled the airwaves in Iowa. Instead of trying to match them, the Warren campaign seems to have hoarded some resources and hired up early in states that have later contests.
That is similar to the organizing approach Warren had in the early states as well, when she focused on hiring organizers sooner than most other campaigns. “[Y]ou can't just stand up an organization overnight or buy your way to the nomination,” Lau wrote.
That’s part of the reason the Warren campaign said they will also keep staff and offices open in Iowa after the caucuses to continue organizing for the general election. “For states that will be part of Elizabeth Warren's path to victory in the Electoral College, it's especially critical that we don't lose momentum or stall the infrastructure after the primary has passed when we have a chance to keep building for the even bigger contest in November,” Lau wrote.
Asked how many staffers would stay and how many offices would remain open, the campaign declined to comment.
Warren herself has occasionally spoken about this approach as well.
“We cannot do this through television commercials,” she recently told the New York Times in her editorial board interview. “The importance of a grass-roots movement is there is one thing that beats fake news, and actually the data showed this, and that’s somebody you know. It’s somebody who actually talks to you. It’s somebody who does the face-to-face. It’s somebody who reaches out. It’s somebody who knocks on your door. It’s your neighbor. It’s the person who talks to you in line at the grocery store.”