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Donald Trump keeps proving again and again that he doesn’t truly understand how presidential campaigning works. His outlandish statements have driven politicians from his own party into vowing never to vote for him. Amid the virtual absence of a campaign, the reality TV star has assured voters that in fact he has no need for a “traditional operation” and cited social media as an equivalent method of reaching the voters – a huge misunderstanding of how campaigning works, to say the least.
Perhaps most importantly, the Trump campaign is majorly lacking in personnel. There is no communications team when conversely, the Clinton campaign has more than a dozen staff members working on communications alone. There is also no “rapid response director to quickly rebut attacks and launch new ones,” so that Trump must address any scrutiny by way of social media or interviews. A majority of presidential campaigns have an entire department dedicated to developing talking points on, for example, the candidate’s foreign policy stance in order to convey uniformity without being forced to resort to those infamous knee-jerk Twitter tirades. According to MSNBC, an anonymous campaign source warned that failure to select a communications team by the convention will likely result in Trump losing the election.
Trump has placed heavy dependance on the Republican National Committee to manage his campaign. Notably, he hasn’t yet configured his own fundraising team, leaving a primarily RNC staff to take the lead on spending decisions instead of any internal members of his campaign. Sean Spicer, the RNC’s chief strategist stated that this particular method is the fastest way to raise money under the present campaign finance rules, but fundraising through the RNC comes at a cost that includes a multitude of restrictions and rules. Accordingly, most of the fundraising money raised will be transferred to the RNC. In 2012, Mitt Romney also left much of his campaign fundraising up to the RNC and only received a small percentage of the money solely for his campaign. The difference between Romney and Trump’s respective relationships with the RNC, however, is that although in the end Romney had only received a quarter of the total $493 million raised, he continued to raise another $336 million on his own, of which he had complete spending control.
Trump, who financed his own campaign in the primaries, seems to be entirely delusional about what he needs when it comes to fundraising for the general election. In an interview with Bloomberg, he stated with regard to his lack of fundraising efforts, “I just don’t think I need nearly as much money as other people need because I get so much publicity.” Paul Manafort, Trump’s campaign chairman, echoed a similar sentiment, stating that the Trump campaign wouldn’t have to raise “as much as people think.” Predictably, Trump trails far behind Clinton in the fundraising department. Clinton, who is expected to raise upwards of $1.5 billion for her campaign, could end up monetarily defeating Trump by a few hundred million dollars.
Furthermore, donors may be less likely to give the Trump campaign money upon witnessing the sheer chaos that has ensued, because, as The Atlantic summarizes, “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?”
To make matters worse, the relationship between Trump and the RNC appears to be an increasingly rocky one. Skepticism regarding the RNC’s commitment to the Trump campaign after numerous RNC employees resigned following Trump’s designation as the Republican party candidate has garnered a mutual distrust between the two entities.
But that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
In May, the Trump campaign fired National Political Director Rick Wiley who was reportedly at odds with Trump’s campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski. Wiley was responsible for coordinating matters between the Trump campaign and the RNC, but in a turn of events, began working for the RNC after his termination. Perhaps the lack of uniformity in the Trump campaign had to do with the amount of animosity occurring. Kevin Madden, adviser to Mitt Romney in 2008, echoed a similar sentiment in stating that:
“What you want is a common theme and common message going across all your advertising. When you cede some of that control or you don’t have a direct command over it, then you can have messages or factions of the campaign competing against each other.”
At the beginning of his campaign, many voters seemed to be of the opinion that “Trump is some kind of strategic mastermind whose bizarre statements don’t hurt him because they are like catnip to his supporters.” But this same oddball rhetoric that worked in the primaries likely wont see the same success in the general election, as most Americans do not agree with his trademark racist remarks or his complete rejection of the establishment. Furthermore, “overall turnout in primaries is incredibly low compared to to general elections.”
Trump’s campaign tactics are so vastly different from any candidate before him that it’s difficult to label him a failure just yet. His campaign is the first in recent history to delegate several campaign tasks to the RNC, for example. However, based on his current sky-high unfavorability ratings and his nonsensical view that his celebrity status renders him exempt from the habitual fundraising efforts of regular candidates, it will likely be incredibly difficult for him to accomplish everything he’s set out to do as president.
But then again, when in this election cycle has Donald Trump performed in a way that was expected of him?
Photo courtesy of CNN