The Corner

Politics & Policy

Hillary Clinton’s Brutally Disappointing Weekend

From the first Morning Jolt of the weekend…

Hillary Clinton’s Brutally Disappointing Weekend

Looks like Hillary Clinton has a case of the Mondays. At this moment, Donald Trump is actually ahead in the Real Clear Politics average of national polls, by two-tenths of a percentage point.

Trump leads the ABC News/Washington Post poll by two points, the Rasmussen poll by five points and the Fox News poll by three points; he trails the CBS News/New York Times poll by six points and the NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll by three points.

When can we refer to “presidential race favorite Donald Trump” or “underdog Hillary Clinton”?

That’s the good news for Trump this weekend. The bad is this most unexpected question: “Will Trump have a money problem as the general election progresses?

Interviews and emails with more than 50 of the Republican Party’s largest donors, or their representatives, revealed a measure of contempt and distrust toward their own party’s nominee that is unheard of in modern presidential politics.

More than a dozen of the party’s most reliable individual contributors and wealthy families indicated that they would not give to or raise money for Mr. Trump. This group has contributed a combined $90 million to conservative candidates and causes in the last three federal elections, mainly to “super PACs” dedicated to electing Republican candidates.

When Trump says things like this Sunday morning…

“I filed my papers about a week ago. Everybody is amazed at the numbers. I’m very liquid. To finance a billion dollars I would have to sell a building, have to do something like that. Will I do that? I could. I have the option of doing it. I have a lot of cash and cash flow. Would I do that? I don’t know. I have the option of doing it.”

Doesn’t that make donors less likely to give? If Trump can always sell a building if he needs the money, why give anything?

A presidential campaign traditionally needs money for a lot of reasons, including infrastructure and get-out-the-vote operations, but a big one is to get their message out over the airwaves. As we’ve just seen in the GOP primary, Donald Trump has figured out television commercials aren’t quite as necessary as usual if you can get your message out in between the commercial breaks.

He basically makes the television media cover him just about every day by offering some new controversy or revelation; he’s mastered the art of attaching himself to breaking news. A plane disappears, he asserts that it’s terrorism, and then a good chunk of the coverage is, “is this premature, did he jump the gun”, etc.

So while Trump will need a lot of money for a presidential bid, he might not need as much as a traditional GOP candidate would need. What really ought to worry Republicans is that Obama put his money into infrastructure and very targeted TV advertising — Lifetime, the Food Network, etc. — while Romney spent his ad dollars in broadcast television, and we saw how that worked out. Trump and the RNC need a GOTV infrastructure, and Trump claimed that stuff is “overrated.”

For example, right now there is no organized Trump general election campaign staff in Ohio:

After winning the GOP nomination on a tight budget with a skeletal staff, Mr. Trump doesn’t have any general-election staff in the state, and senior aides in New York and Washington haven’t made contact with the state Republican Party. Efforts to recruit the state’s experienced operatives who helped elect Gov. John Kasich have so far been unsuccessful, people familiar with the matter said.

The good news for Trump is that polling is close in Ohio. The bad news is, how likely is he to win a tight race if Hillary’s getting a big head start in setting up her get-out-the-vote operations?

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