Sunday, June 19, 2016

No Plans, No Backup, No Exit

As the polling numbers flounder, there are other signs of discord and chaos within the World of Trump (tm):

What is concerning for Trump backers and Republicans (the Venn diagram of overlap between those groups seems to be in perpetual flux) is that it appears to be distracting from the rest of the crucial work of building a presidential campaign. For most intents and purposes, there appears to be no Trump campaign... 

As David A. Graham at the Atlantic notes:

For example, Trump has no state-level campaign director in Ohio or Colorado, two top-shelf swing states. Across the map, Republican officials say they’re just waiting to hear on what to do from either Trump or the Republican National Committee, but so far they’re hearing very little. “I'll say that as far as building the infrastructure of a campaign, the RNC has been doing it for many years,” Trump said at a press conference in May...

It's true that the national committee has always handled the "ground game" aspects of the nuts-and-bolts, usually coordinating with their state branches to get volunteers and call centers organized, but there's always been a joint effort with the campaigner himself to, you know, put something into that effort to get it started. Everyone's waiting for Trump to settle into his own chain of command, press a Start button to get the general election engine going... and he's too busy yammering at rallies and Tweeting online to get his own house in order.

At the beginning of that article, Graham noted how Trump is hiring just a handful of people, and mostly focused on his home state of New York as a place he wants to win. Which flies a bit into the face of common sense because New York is so liberal Blue in national elections - and with Hillary claiming it as a home-state as well - that the Republicans are better off cutting their losses and focusing on Ohio and Florida instead.

Trump's thinking on this mimics his thinking on trying to win California: deluded that a solid Blue state could be treated like a toss-up, because it's Electoral College-heavy (gotta win HUGE) and because Trump seems to know where the state is on the map (Trump's ego is telling him New Yawk is his place and the people there are HIS people).

What's interesting is how Trump is screwing up on the finer details of campaigning: Even an amateur like myself would know to set up and keep running - especially if I'm winning - state-level offices during the primaries to have a ground crew in place for the post-convention push into the General election. It may cost some money - isn't Trump supposed to be rich, and isn't he supposed to be good at hiring people to work for him? - but even a volunteer staff would be something. This is common-sense stuff, stuff I've seen for statewide Governor campaign in-person volunteering for Crist in 2010 and with Obama's ground games in 2008 and 2012.

It's as though Trump is trying to run his whole thing on the cheap: He HAD gotten so much free press coverage up until now that it helped him avoid wasting money during the Primary season on ad time. It's his modus operandi of Other People's Money, instead of money it's with Other People's Press Coverage. And now he seems to think he can just campaign the whole way like this.

Hint: He can't. This is the part of the campaign where the fight goes to Get Out The Vote efforts, bigger ad pushes, fund-raising that requires money be spent first to get the staff to raise those funds and organize more events and drum up constant support. And he's not getting any of that in place right now.

By comparison, Hillary's got a ground game in most battleground toss-up states and is already buying up ad time. She'll be selling a positive spin on herself - and mudslinging a ton of dirt at Trump - that can reach more people and with better effectiveness than any Trump Tweet could. And we're still weeks ahead of the Democratic convention in Philly.

Trump is showing signs that he honestly doesn't know how to campaign for the Presidency in the first place, and that he's not hiring the right people to do it for him. He's also not in the mood - hilariously enough - to do any fund-raising himself (also via Graham):

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?

From the Politico, this little tidbit:

...While Trump had promised Priebus that he would call two dozen top GOP donors, when RNC chief of staff Katie Walsh recently presented Trump with a list of more than 20 donors, he called only three before stopping, according to two sources familiar with the situation. It’s unclear whether he resumed the donor calls later.
Meanwhile, there’s deep skepticism on Trump’s campaign about the RNC’s commitment to the presumptive GOP nominee, with some campaign officials questioning how hard the RNC is working to help Trump and to raise money for his campaign’s joint committees with the party.

There's a sense that Trump wants control of the funds, but doesn't want to do any of the heavy lifting to get those funds in the first place. Again, Other's People Money at work here.

It's like having a professional cyclist keep the lead of the Tour de France up until the 15th Stage, and then suddenly stop pedaling (peddling?) unless the other cyclists on the Tour take over the pedaling for him.

There's been this buzz that somewhere within - deep down in a secret part of the empty space that should contain his soul - Trump is that he really doesn't want to be President. I can see where the idea would come from: Being President is too demanding, too time-consuming and too limiting on someone like Trump who has to be 100 other places all at once doing his own thing and not someone else's.

Here's the problem: Trump always wants to paint himself as a winner... even when he's running away from whatever disaster he just created - failing casinos, struggling sports league, doomed airline, questionable online school - with his terrible skills. He can't just quit the campaign for something because the ENTIRE WORLD is witnessing this. That would be a huge admission of failure, and it would wreck his trademarked name.

If there's an exit strategy - get kicked off the ballot by the GOP, or have the convention stolen from him - it still compels him at this point to play the game to the bitter end by angrily (justifiably) running as an Independent/Write-In if only to wreck the Republicans for "betraying" him. I doubt scandal - any emerging facts of his dubious business practices for example - will drive him out. Only Trump can destroy Trump, and he doesn't want to.

So for now I'm thinking he's in this to win this. He just doesn't realize what that means.

What I'm figuring is that Trump has a Plan A: Run for President using the same marketing skills to promote his brand (his NAME) to draw in enough suckers voters to win and draw in enough billionaire fools fellow rich people to give him enough money to pay off growing debts he'd rather not people know to enjoy the good life. It works (worked) for the Primary, but the General election is filled with voters who aren't suckers for a wingnut egomaniacal platform.

Trump does not have a Plan B. From what I've seen of his career, Plan B is usually bankruptcy court. That doesn't help here.

This is where the Republicans have to panic. They are facing the WORST of both worlds here. Either Trump stays on as their standard-bearer, running a disorganized mess that scares away the deep-pocket funders (more and more companies are refusing to support their convention, for example) and wrecks the whole party's ability to campaign for down-ballot offices. Or Trump leaves, but in a way that either burns the whole house down as he runs for it or else prevents the party from fixing the damage left in his wake.

Kicking Trump out is no longer an option: They do that, and the voting base riots. Worse for the RNC, they'll stop voting Republican at every level. Their dying party - still shambling about zombie-like - dies for real, and stays dead for more than one generation.

In the RNC's best-case scenario, Trump nominates a "respectable" long-time politician as his Veep, then quits for some vague excuse allowing the RNC or the convention delegates to rally to the Veep to step up as the Presidential candidate for the General election. But even then, the party will be weeks behind in organization compared to Hillary and the Dems. The Republicans would have to start from scratch in July something that should have been up and running by May. And knowing Trump, his Veep selection is going to be someone so similar in tone against immigrants and women that the replacement candidate will be just as toxic and hated as Trump, meaning they'll still poll poorly and lose in November.

The only good news in THAT scenario for the GOP is that they could get their fund-raising efforts back into play to where they could salvage their Congressional and state-level campaigns. Maybe.

The only real way Trump leaves is if he's utterly convinced he's not going to make any money out of his scam campaign. Which might be why the RNC isn't so rushed to do anything to help: the Republicans have always been about "starving the beast," after all. But the Republicans have to starve themselves in the process if they do this, with no guarantee they can recover as a Party.

I'm adding this to the Schadenfreude tag, just because it is maliciously joyous to watch the Republicans panic as this oncoming storm of disorganized hell approaches them.

I just hope innocent people don't get hurt in this.


Infidel753 said...

Excellent analysis. The man is in way over his head and is floundering. He may not even realize how badly he's messing up because he know nothing and won't listen to anybody.

Schadenfreude? I'm going to enjoy every minute of this train wreck from now until November, and no apologies for that!

dinthebeast said...

I don't know whether this is plausible or not, but I was thinking that if the RNC panics hard enough to try and unseat Trump at the convention, they would probably fail, but it would get ugly enough in front of the cameras to sour the whole play for the Republicans. Then, if the Democrats can get it together (never a sure bet) and hang that ugliness around the necks of Republican house candidates, we might get Hillary and both houses of congress, something she'll need if she wants to get anything real accomplished.
And yeah, if Trump wants to "vanity project" the Republican party's chances at the presidency into the dirt, that's fine by me.

-Doug in Oakland

dinthebeast said...

Oh yeah: The thought of Trump sitting there trying to call people to ask for money cracks me up. The fact that he is unable to do so is unsurprising, and begs the question of what other duties of the presidency he would not be able to make himself actually do. This is just the campaign, that is, the easy stuff.

-Doug in Oakland

Pinku-Sensei said...

Trump might have to take public financing for his presidential campaign. Theoretically, I'm all in favor of both candidates doing so, but practically, I'd love to see Trump do so while Clinton doesn't. That combination worked so well for McCain against Obama in 2008. /sarcasm

Paul Wartenberg said...

Again, this campaign is exposing Trump as a fraud: his funding is barely over $2 million right now, which for any Presidential campaign couldn't even afford the donuts. He's been so stuck on getting free airtime with fawning media outlets to realize he's got to have an actual ground crew to dot the I's and cross the T's. And he's turning out not to have as much cash in hand as he claims.

Yet he can't drop out due to lack of funds: that would ruin his entire image as a "successful businessman." So he's got to get more proactive with fund-raising... and yet he can't even do that (apparently it involves too much sucking up and begging, rather than his usual bullying tactics).