Looking Forward … and Backward

There are a lot of news stories this week relating to the May campaign reports, and in particular the pitiful amount of cash on hand that Donald Trump has.   What’s also interesting is not just that he doesn’t have much, but that it’s also impacting the Republican Party’s campaign chest.  In contrast, Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party seem to be doing quite well.  There’s more than a little irony in this.

The reason I say “irony” is that for much of the primary season, Hillary was being attacked from the left, as well as from the Sanders campaign, for her fundraising.   This was evidence of “corruption,” according to them, even though there were reasons why massive fundraising was taking place.  While one can decry the fact that there is so much money being pumped into the political process, and wish it wasn’t the case, the reality is that for now, it’s necessary.  In fact, even when one talks about the potential for “public financing,” or strictly regulating political spending, there is still the fact that running a campaign costs money.  As I pointed out in my previous post, even a small local election will have some costs.

Now multiply that to a national campaign, and hundreds of Senate, House, and state contests.  You need staff, you need campaign materials, advertising, web sites, travel, and a thousand other expenses.   It costs a lot of money, and if you’re a political party, the person at the top of the ticket is going to be responsible for a lot of that.  One of the things that the Trump fundraising stories have brought out is just how much that’s relied on.

As the Republican National Committee — which also saw a drop in its May fundraising compared to 2012 — is forced to prop up Trump’s rickety campaign apparatus, it means less money will be passed down to congressional committees and to state parties. It also means less money to finance the party’s crucial but costly get-out-the-vote efforts.

Which is causing a lot of panic in Republican circles.  What makes it even worse is that Trump doesn’t really have a campaign organization to help them.   Now contrast that with what Hillary has done.  She’s been working the ground game since announcing.  Raising funds not just for herself, but for the Party and down ticket races.  Her campaign has staffers in all the states, and is rapidly ramping up even more.  She’s been running a national campaign, and building up for a year, while Trump isn’t even at the starting point.

Looking ahead, this can mean very good things for Democrats this year.  While anything is possible, the difference between  virtually starting from scratch now versus building up from a solid foundation makes it a difficult barrier to overcome.   A lot of Republican candidates are realizing “you’re on your own” when it comes to this election, and much of the support they were relying on is not going to be there.

That doesn’t mean that it’s “in the bag,” or that we can relax.  There’s a lot of time left, and as history has shown, things can change.  But I do feel a lot more optimistic about this coming election.  For the first time in a very long time, the Republicans are starting out much weaker financially, and their organization is in disarray.   It’ll be interesting to see how this all plays out for them, but I don’t think it’ll be good.  But on the “I told you so,” one of the lessons the “left of the Left” should be taking away is that raising money and funding local parties is necessary …. not corruption.

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6 Comments

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6 responses to “Looking Forward … and Backward

  1. I never understood why Sanders didn’t acknowledge the importance of this. He seemed to think he was the only candidate running. Thank goodness that Clinton knows what she’s doing!

    • A lot of it was due to his lack of experience in running anything but a local (and Vermont really counts as a one) campaign, and even then, just for himself.

  2. dbtheonly

    Norbrook,

    Welcome back.

    We’ve spent the last six months talking about how Donald Trump has rewritten the playbook in politics. He’s done everything “wrong” and still cleaned the clocks of everyone in the Republican Primaries. Arguing now that he’s not playing by the rules; strikes me as slipping into the same pit that Trump set for Bush, Carson, Cruz, Perry, Rubio…

    • In the sense that during the primaries, he was relying on a lot of free publicity from the media, as well as appealing to a limited base of the party. What we’re seeing now is a lot of pushback from the media, along with fact checking. The “free ride” he was getting isn’t there as much, and the reality is that without a good ground game, he’s not going to improve much on what he did in the primaries. I don’t take it lightly, but I’m more optimistic about it than I was before this started.

      • dbtheonly

        But you’re working off the old playbook. The very playbook that would have Jeb! awaiting coronation.

        What if things really are different now? Do you expect the Lamestream Media to call Trump out on his falsehoods? Does it matter if they do? The RWMO are going all in for him. And his supporters are enthusiastic.

        Those are the “known unknowns”; it’s those “unknown unknowns” that worry me.

  3. db

    Saw where Trump donated(?) loaned(?) $50 million to his campaign.

    Interesting, if true, and not like those donations to the wounded vets.