The truth about the Trump general election campaign is emerging, and it’s not a pretty picture. This isn’t just idle trolling or the donor class sniffing at a dilettante candidate, or to quote Newt Gingrich, a “gifted amateur.”
In New Hampshire, the first state that evidenced Trump’s appeal with disaffected voters, where he crushed all the other candidates, beginning a six-week march to complete dominance, the Trump campaign is all but closed for business.
The Boston Globe reported Thursday:
In the middle of a workday this week, Trump’s state headquarters was locked, windows covered in paper, and displayed a note for visitors to call a phone number for access. By the door, there were about a half-dozen large blank posters, with this message clothes-pinned to the boards: “For the Donald Trump campaign. He’s embarrassing, but he’s ours.”
Meanwhile, just a few miles away, Hillary Clinton’s New Hampshire office has five full-time staffers, including a state director, a deputy state director, a communications director, a digital director, and a political director. And they’ve all worked in New Hampshire politics for years.
This isn’t just sad, it’s shockingly bad news. Given that Trump’s national leaders including Corey Lewandowski and national political director Jim Murphy are closely tied to the Granite State. One of the reasons Lewandowski was reportedly chosen was his supposed ability to deliver New Hampshire.
Instead, Trump is spending his time and effort chasing unicorns like New York and California. This puts the RNC in a compromised and paralyzed position.
A related and intertwined problem is Trump’s lack of fundraising. Although he once said he’d raise $1 billion, his new fundraising team—mostly constituted by the RNC, of course—is working to depress expectations, saying there’s little chance he’ll raise that much. In fact, many members told The Wall Street Journal they haven’t even done any work yet. There’s a vicious cycle at work here, which is that as donors see the Trump campaign in chaos, they’re unwilling to fork over their hard-earned cash. Why back a candidate who’s rending the Republican Party apart, doesn’t follow conservative orthodoxy, and seems to have no idea what he’s doing with the money?
Again, we have the laws of politics versus the Trump magic media machine. Trump thinks his unique brand of persuasion, bullying, manipulation, and media control will win him the White House. But the playing field has definitely changed, with the media pivoting to support Hillary versus standing back to watch the Republican primary field self-immolate.
Every dollar Trump raises for himself is potentially a dollar robbed for down ballot races desperately in need of cash to defend against a strong Democratic push using Trump as their primary target. Even should Trump’s personal strategy find success, the cost will be the rest of the party.
But the parsimonious billionaire is determined to run not only his campaign on empty, but the whole party. We will see if this strategy becomes unacceptable enough to those who will ultimately determine who crowns the presumptive nominee, or if they will offer that crown to another.