This is from the most recent report from Open Secrets on the Trump campaign. It shows that Trump, though heavily invested did not “self fund” his campaign as he said he was doing. This is an important point as Trump’s self funding was a significant part of his appeal for many. The idea that he owed no one was powerful.
To a large degree the “Trump independence” meme does appear to hold true even if Trump only self funded 1/5 of his campaign. His small contributors outstripped large contributors and the list of large contributors is significantly shorter and the dollar amounts much smaller than Ms. Clinton’s.
Still, given Trump’s net worth (which Forbes puts “definitively” at $3.7 billion) one might conclude that entirely self funding was actually in the cards. Why didn’t he do it then?
Was he what some might call “cheap”? Perhaps.
Was he savvy? Did he figure that he’d primed the contribution pump and now could count on a steady flow of money with no or few strings attached? Also, perhaps.
Was he short on cash? This is also possible.
Did he think he was going to lose and so didn’t want to “waste” more money than he had to? Could be.
We’ll probably never know the answers to these four questions but a reasonable person can probably conclude that what actually happened with Trump in 2016 was a mix of these factors.
In the end does it really matter?
We think it does as how the campaign was funded gives us a clue as to how Trump will govern in the years ahead. As such, from a anti-crony perspective there is cause for hope and also cause for caution. (That’s life and politics for you.) One thing is for sure and that is Trump did something unique on the fundraising front in 2016 and others will seek to emulate Trump’s “low cost” approach. It will be interesting to see what Trump does money-wise in 2020. (Yes we apologize for mentioning the next presidential election.)