Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Does it matter if Donald Trump's campaign is broke?

In 2008, Barack Obama broke his pledge to accept federal matching funds because acceptance of those funds came with a string attached:  spending limits.   He realized that he could raise enough on his own to spend more than he could with matching funds.  McCain couldn't.  McCain was stuck with only around $80 million to around $300 million for Obama.  Despite that financial advantage, Obama did no better than political science models predicted.  The economy in 2008 was terrible.  A generic Democrat should have gotten between 53 and 55% of the vote.  Obama got 53%.  Money just doesn't matter that much.

You may have heard, but we may now be seeing the start of a campaign with an even greater mismatch.  Every job has at least one miserable task.  Mine?  Grading.  Grading sucks.  Every professor will give you that same answer.  Ask any politician what the worst part of the job is, and they'll all give you the same answer:  fundraising.  Nobody likes asking for money.  Donald Trump flat-out refuses to do it.  Why?  It's degrading, and his whole schtick is an obsession with dominance games.  So, his campaign has virtually no money.  He keeps promising to fund his own campaign, but as we all know, he is nowhere near as rich as he claims, and kind of a cheapskate.  My favorite of the latest is that he gave his old, dead (yay!) lawyer, Roy Cohn (yes, the very same), a pair of fake diamond cufflinks, dressed up as the real deal.

So, he won't fund his own campaign, and won't ask for money.  That will leave him at a "YUUUGE" financial disadvantage to HRC.

Does anyone read John Scalzi?  Is Nick Weinstein writing this thing?  Nobody gets my references.  But hey, nobody reads my blog, so screw it.

Anyway, the question is whether or not this matters.  It didn't in 2008, but HRC will be at a bigger financial advantage.  What Trump will have is the same thing he had in the primaries:  free media attention.  The press will cover his every tweet, and cut away from whatever they are doing for every press conference, every rally and every pseudo-event.

Trump's lack of campaign money is a symptom of an underlying problem, not the problem itself.  It is reflective of his lack of discipline and the fact that elites don't think he has a chance, as demonstrated by the fact that the betting markets still give HRC such an edge.  Don't write Trump off.  He has surprised us before, and anything can happen.  The economy is growing tepidly, the Democrats have won two in a row, and overconfident predictions are a recipe for crow-induced indigestion.  But, take Trump's ironic money troubles as a symptom of the bigger, underlying problem.

Then again, maybe Trump will pull a Ross Perot and withdraw from the race, citing Republican threats to his family.  Would it really be any crazier than Trump running out of money?

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