Donald Trump's campaign is "pulling out of Virginia," a move that stunned staff in the battleground state, three sources with knowledge of the decision told NBC News.
The decision came from Trump's headquarters in New York and was announced on a conference call late Wednesday that left some Republican Party operatives in the state blindsided. Two staffers directly involved in the GOP's efforts in Virginia confirmed the decision.
The move to pull out of Virginia shows Trump is "running essentially a four state campaign," with the focus now shifting to battlegrounds critical to his chances in November: Pennsylvania, Florida, North Carolina, and Ohio, a source with knowledge of the decision told NBC News.
If you're down to four states out of 50 in your ground game, you've lost and you just don't know it yet. Even if Trump wins all four of those states, if he abandons every other state in play right now to Clinton (a list which now includes Georgia and Arizona and Utah) he still loses on electoral votes.
Trump's former Virginia state chairman, Corey Stewart, who was recently fired by the Trump campaign for organizing a protest outside Republican National Committee headquarters, called the move "totally premature."
Stewart was not on the conference call, but said he was informed by a staffer who was.
"I think it's totally premature for the campaign to be pulling out of Virginia after so much work and all the hundreds ... of hours of volunteer time and thousands and thousands of volunteers," Stewart said. "The only thing the campaign had to do was spend money on an ad campaign and it would have been competitive ... I'm just disgusted."
"It's fair to say money was allocated," one source said of the Virginia operation, declining to confirm what the specific amount allocated was. "But now they're looking to move personnel to a state that some people think is more important."
Clinton now has a 10 point lead in Pennsylvania. Virginia was Trump's only other real path to the White House, and that was if he kept NC. FL and Ohio. Without either, he's done.
I'm still betting that Trump's collapse is so total that Clinton approaches 400 EVs, but even if Trump manages to hold on to Georgia and Arizona and other second-tier states like Missouri and South Carolina he still gets crushed with Clinton getting around 350 EVs. Clinton has a lot of paths to 270. Trump has precisely one without Virginia, and it's running the table on all four of those states he's concentrating on and then keeping every other state he has to limp just over the finish line.
He will not win all four. He's done, he just hasn't admitted it yet.