I don't believe I have been given any credit by the voters for self-funding my campaign, the only one. I will keep doing, but not worth it!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 2, 2016
Trump is self-funding, not because he wants to but because no one is giving money to his campaign. His website has a donation page. The problem is that no one wants to. Let's face it, if you got to a county fair do you give money to the
short-fingered guy bearded lady? What is most significant is that Trump's donations cratered in the last quarter. During 3d QTR, Trump had $3.18 million in donations. Not so much last quarter:
Trump’s website makes it easy to give a man who claims to be worth $10 billion a donation via a few clicks and a credit card. But his filing claims the campaign spent nothing on fundraising over the final three months of 2015. The $2.6 million that Trump did take in from the public lagged far behind the $22.6 million raised by Ben Carson, $20.5 million given to Ted Cruz, and $7.1 million thrown away on Jeb Bush over the same period. And 74.7 per cent of it—$1.98 million—came from the sale of Trump-themed merchandise.
The absence of fundraising is just another bit of evidence that points to a Potemkin candidacy, a rich man's political fantasy. Trump's minuscule level of self-funding can work in Iowa (where it didn't actually work all that well) or New Hampshire or Nevada (though without a ground campaign he is going to get beaten there) and perhaps South Carolina. These are all single states where a Trump rally can get extensive coverage with the voters. Coverage that other candidates have to buy. Once you get into larger states and multiple primaries this is going to become a damned expensive hobby.
Rick Shaftan, an über-conservative operative who runs Courageous Conservatives PAC, a super political action committee supporting Cruz, said Trump lacking other people’s cash tells you everything you need to know about his campaign.
“They just don’t even care,” Shaftan said. “They don’t care about grassroots fundraising. It’s not a real campaign—it’s a reality show. I think Iowa reflects that.”
Trump, for his part, told a New Hampshire rally on Monday night that he is going to put more money into his campaign: “‘I’m going to start spending a lot, for two reasons: 1) I don’t want to take any chances; 2) I feel guilty’ Jeb spent so much.”
We'll get a hint of how serious he is in South Carolina. By then the other campaign attacks on him will have scuffed him up quite a bit. Is he willing to spend a couple of hundred million when he can't guarantee the outcome? I doubt it.