As Matt Vespa reminds us, Hillary Clinton once offered this zinger about Donald Trump’s claims to be a business wizard: “What kind of genius loses a billion dollars in a single year?” The New York Post has the answer in their review of election-campaign financial disclosures. The final cost of Hillary’s futile bid for the presidency — including monies spent by the Democratic Party and supporting PACS — exceeded $1.2 billion.
Trump, on the other hand, turned out to be a wiser manager of finances than Hillary guessed:
Hillary Clinton and her supporters spent a record $1.2 billion for her losing presidential campaign — twice as much as the winner, Donald Trump, according to the latest records.
The president-elect, who confounded critics during the campaign by saying there was no need to raise or spend $1 billion or more, ended up making do with $600 million.
It’s easy to laugh at this now that Trump won the election, but Republicans spent most of the campaign worrying about this disparity. Trump had won the primaries on the cheap, spending very little money, but had promised to aggressively raise money for both his own campaign and the RNC once he won the nomination. He spent very little in August, creating even more angst, but the Trump campaign finally began to press the accelerator in September and October.
Had Trump lost the election, don’t think for a moment that this calculation would have been overlooked as the reason why. The spending disparities in 2012 certainly got a lot of attention, especially the way Mitt Romney got outboxed in the summer. That was the motivation for moving the convention up to July this year, and also for front-loading the primaries. A quicker win would have meant more opportunity for the nominee to conserve some primary resources for playing defense for a few weeks, a strategy that Trump didn’t bother with at all anyway. As it turns out, it wasn’t necessary … this time, anyway.
The disparity continued to the bitter end. Well, bitter for one team, anyway:
Clinton’s expensive machine tore through $131.8 million in just the final weeks, finishing with about $839,000 on hand as of Nov. 28.
Team Trump spent $94.5 million in the home stretch — from Oct. 20 to Nov. 28 — and had $7.6 million left.
So why didn’t spending disparities matter this time? This cycle had a couple of unique characteristics. First, Trump’s celebrity status and his blunt and mercurial style forced the media to cover him more than they would have chosen to do with any other Republican candidate, even while flagellating themselves for doing so. But perhaps even more to the point, Democrats nominated someone who just couldn’t be advertised into winning. Even the best advertising campaigns need a product that at least achieves mediocrity and palatability. Hillary’s failure shows that she couldn’t even meet those low standards as a political candidate. We’re not likely to see that combination again for a long, long time in a presidential general election. At least, we hope not.