Through the end of March, the Trump campaign has spent $46 million, and with outside groups it brings the total to just under $50 million, with $1.6 million cash on hand.
As a candidate, Trump has been parsimonious in his spending, running without a doubt the cheapest successful primary campaign in decades. Of course, there’s his $2 billion in unearned media. Arguably the media could take my dentist and give away $2 billion and, provided the guy doesn’t drool on himself, he might have a chance.
But now, Trump has to take on Hillary, who has a war chest of $29 million cash from of the $263.9 she’s (and her super PAC) raised so far. In 2012, Barack Obama and the DNC raised over $1 billion and spent just shy of that mark. Mitt Romney and the RNC spent $5 million more total, with the party kicking in $120 million more than the DNC spent on Obama.
At this point in the 2012 campaign, Obama (and his super PAC) had raised $271 million, and Romney had raised $182 million. By comparison, Ted Cruz had raised $146.5 million (and probably more) before he dropped out last night.
Trump is going to have to get his fundraising in high gear if he wants to compete with Hillary. One thing is certain, he’s unlikely to enjoy the free media he’s been getting in the primaries. Now it’s always possible that the desire for ratings overrides the MSM’s liberal bent. It’s possible that Leslie Moonves keeps on doing what’s good for CBS. It’s possible that the entire media turns into a giant Trump propaganda machine (which it’s pretty much been since July).
But it’s more likely that the Clintons exercise their option to flood the market with the most damaging aspects of their opposition file. In fact, everything in Cruz’s ad is correct; Clinton’s crew is licking their chops to start in on Trump. The media can get their ratings fix taking Trump down just as well as they got it building him up.
They’ll invite him on the shows but he won’t get the softball questions he’s been getting. Instead, he’ll get questions straight out of the Clinton oppo file. He could boycott the shows, but that only works with his rabid supporters–and 34 percent of the GOP will not win a general election.
So Trump will need to spend money, and spend big. The RNC spent $378.8 million on Romney in 2012, and of course we know what happened. By June, the RNC had raised $202 million and spent $120 million. So far this cycle, the RNC has raised just $137 million, and has only $16 million on hand. Unless Trump digs very deep into his own pockets, Hillary and the Democrats are going to crush him in the media.
We will soon find out whether Trump is worth even a fraction of the $10 billion he wrote in his FEC filing. My guess is we’ll get be getting “send cash” emails any day now. I will gladly contribute nothing (and the RNC won’t get a penny from me either).