Fundraising reports for the month of May reveal some trouble for the Trump campaign – he’s dead broke. Maybe $1.3 million cash on hand sounds pretty good to most of us, but presidential campaigns cost somewhere in the ballpark of $1 billion dollars these days. This is less than any presumptive nominee for which electronic filings exist at this time in the election cycle.
Where is Donald Trump spending all his money?
Donald J. Trump regularly boasts that he is self-funding his presidential bid, but new campaign finance filings show that he is also shifting plenty of money back to himself in the process.
Full Story: New York Times
He spent more money on MAGA hats than on actual television ads, and the rest, it seems, he spent on various things that he personally makes money from. The article is admittedly misleading in that Trump has been clear from the start that he would not self-fund a general election campaign. He has been fairly consistent on that to my knowledge. However, it appears he has chosen to not have anyone fund his campaign at all! This calls into question just how rich Donald Trump actually is. His refusal to release any tax returns means we may never know. Given his propensity for exaggeration, it is likely he is much less wealthy than we are lead to believe. If his personal spending habits are as irresponsible as his campaign’s (and by the looks of his lifestyle, I would say that’s the case) he may be running a little dry in the bank account too.
This all fuels speculation that Trump has no intention of being president, and that he merely got into this to promote his brand. There are many people close to him who suggest he was never interested in the job, although I don’t know that any of them have specifically cited brand promotion as his motive. He’s in a bit of a bind now, if that is actually the case. His brand has taken a huge hit as a result of his divisive campaign. It’s not surprising he decided to keep the campaign going, if just to make sure Trump industries still has at least one customer! Apologies for the Trumpesque exaggeration on that one.
There is, however, a larger point to be made here. While Trump didn’t entirely self-fund his primary campaign (and that’s even if you accept that a loan from himself, which must be repaid with someone’s money, is even self-funding at all), his triumph is still significant when you consider how his campaign really was funded
You can see this chart for yourself by googling Donald Trump campaign fundraising. Only 4% of his funding comes from outside groups- the rest is from himself and individual contributors to his campaign. Isn’t this the America that the left wants? Where were the Elizabeth Warren’s and Bernie Sanders’ of the world celebrating Donald Trump’s primary win – a win against all odds, against the massive amounts of outside dark money trying to stop him. Citizens United be damned, the people have risen up and spoken!
Of course, you will never hear any of that. Unlike the left, I don’t necessarily see virtue in having a campaign free of SuperPAC money if you’re a terrible candidate. I’d rather have a good candidate with lots of SuperPAC money and I’ll admit it. Trump’s accomplishment is somewhat impressive, if not exactly in a good way, and it proves that in the media age, money doesn’t always decide elections.
Trump could very well win the White House anyways. Given his primary victory, I wouldn’t assume that he can’t catch Hillary without fundraising parity. He still has less cash on hand than the Cruz and Carson campaigns, and he beat them pretty decisively. He’s only 7 points down now despite having 3% of the cash on hand Hillary does. Just a couple of weeks ago he was statistically tied with her. However, I still think any reasonable assessment would conclude that our likely next President is Hillary Clinton. When and if that happens, I am sure the left will be out in full force decrying the role of dark money in stealing the election from the people and from Donald Trump. On second thought, maybe I shouldn’t hold my breath.