Wednesday, August 10, 2016

No Advertising. No Ground Game. Where is all of Trump's Money Going?

by Michael Strickland

Donald Trump has a ton of money, and he’s not spending it on ads. He’s not spending it on building a field campaign. So the logical question becomes: what is he doing with all that money? 

It is awfully late to get a field campaign running. It takes time building up the strength necessary for boots on the ground to translate into electoral success. 

Whether Trump or whoever wants to admit it or not, using big data to help you with these efforts is essential, if not required.


Check out this story: Clinton campaign outspending Trump on ads $52 million to zero.
Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign has now spent $52 million on ads, and pro-Clinton outside groups have chipped in an additional $39 million, according to ad-spending data from Advertising Analytics.By comparison, the Trump campaign itself has spent $0, with pro-Trump outside groups adding $8 million over the airwaves.
Further, this Washington Post article provides insight into what the Trump ground game looked like for the primaries ... Trump has at times disparaged the data-driven field campaign, the focal point in modern elections, notably thanks to Obama’s impeccable data-mining techniques. Thus,  it should not be surprising that Trump’s ground gave has yet to reach anything close to rivaling Clinton’s.
Donald Trump still hasn’t figured out the ground game.

According to a campaign official, it's a function of enthusiastic volunteers -- volunteers filling a vacuum left by the Trump campaign's non-existent outreach operation on the ground in the region. 
It's not clear where Trump's team is running anything of any scale. The campaign continues to trail Hillary Clinton's staff head-count by a wide margin. Trump has regularly argued that his low spending on staff saves him money, but organizing in battleground states requires staff in those states. The internet allows campaigns to coordinate phone calling remotely, but no one has yet figured out how to knock on a voter's door over the web. Volunteers can run phone banks or precinct walks, but relying on unpaid staff to do that effectively is risky.

What's more, field is not that easy. It takes months of voter targeting and outreach, building up volunteer efforts on the ground and figuring out who you want to talk to, when, and what you want to say. It requires figuring out how you can help seniors to the polls and where and when to offer literature or sales pitches to wavering voters. It's not the sort of thing that you cobble together in a week. It's the sort of thing that professional campaigns looking at November have already started working on.  
Nevertheless, this brings up a compelling issue. After a noteworthy fundraising disadvantage, the Trump campaign has taken great efforts to advertise his fundraising hauls of the last couple months. Read these articles: Trump campaign hauls $80 million in July, closing gap with Clinton andTrump beats expectations, raises $51 million with GOP in June.
So I ask again. What is he doing with all that money?
Blogger "Hunter" puts the issue succinctly.
Perhaps he doesn't intend to spend any of those campaign donations on ads—or anything else. Perhaps someone has let him in on the grandest grift of all time: After your supporters willingly give you their money, you don't have to give it back.
Here is a statistic that should raise a few eyebrows: The campaign of the long-shot Green Party candidate, Jill Stein, has spent $189,000 more on TV advertising for the general election than the Republican nominee. Trump is also being out-spent by the campaign of the Libertarian candidate, according to a report from NBC News. Gary Johnson has outspent Trump by $15,000. Why so close? Because Johnson has spent almost nothing — just $15,000 in total. And Trump has spent exactly nothing.

We know from what few FEC filings there have been, that Trump the Presidential candidate has already been a cash cow for Trump the real-estate mogul. He is already up $6 million.
Through the end of May, Trump’s campaign had plunged at least $6.2 million back into Trump corporate products and services, a review of Federal Election Commission filings shows. That’s about 10% of his total campaign expenditures.
Even $4.7 million the campaign has spent on hats and T-shirts has a tie to Trump. The provider, Ace Specialties, is owned by a board member of son Eric Trump’s charitable foundation.
Finally, connections have been raised, so one has to ask: Is any of this American campaign money going to Russia?
So, yes, it’s true that Trump has failed to land a business venture inside Russia. But the real truth is that, as major banks in America stopped lending him money following his many bankruptcies, the Trump organization was forced to seek financing from non-traditional institutions. Several had direct ties to Russian financial interests in ways that have raised eyebrows. What’s more, several of Trump’s senior advisors have business ties to Russia or its satellite politicians.
“The Trump-Russia links beneath the surface are even more extensive,” Max Boot wrote in the Los Angeles Times. “Trump has sought and received funding from Russian investors for his business ventures, especially after most American banks stopped lending to him following his multiple bankruptcies.”
What’s more, three of Trump’s top advisors all have extensive financial and business ties to Russian financiers, wrote Boot, the former editor of the Op Ed page of the Wall Street Journal and now a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.
Of the past 20 presidential nominees, 19 made their tax returns public. Nearly all of them did it about 200 days before the election. Now, the question for Trump becomes, what are you hiding?
TV ads get more expensive the closer we get to elections. That’s why many groups reserve air time well in advance, to lock in the lower rates. Despite the reports that Trump’s campaign has so far spent $0, there is little signal that they have otherwise reserved any airtime.

Even if Trump is considering all the free airtime that the news channels give him, as many people speculate, it still leaves a powerful vacuum for Clinton and her allies to shape the message being disseminated to the people. While Trump has to grapple with the middle-men of news pundits, oftentimes with agendas of their own, Clinton gets to directly utilize a directed messaging campaign, likely vetted by focus groups for maximum impact.
All of this, added together points to a Trump as terrible executive of his Presidential campaign. One can imagine what it translates to as what kind of executive he would be if he actually made it into the White House. A picture that emerges is of a person singularly unfit to be President, at best. At worst, we are witnessing massive fraud in reality-show format.