Trump Would Probably Be Winning This Primary by Much More If He Weren’t Cutting His Campaign Spending

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Donald Trump Holds Rally In Utah Ahead Of State's Caucuses
Make America Great Again (So Long As It's Affordable)Photo: George Frey/2016 Getty Images

Donald Trump’s name may be synonymous with opulence, but his 2016 run is the store-brand version of presidential campaigns. In February, the month when primary voters started casting their ballots and his myriad opponents began savaging him in 30-second ads, Trump actually decreased his campaign spending. By the end of the month, Trump had become the GOP’s presumptive nominee while spending barely more than half as much as his chief Republican rival: Trump spent $9.5 million in February; Ted Cruz spent $17.5 million.

Trump has mounted virtually no ground game, done little to no retail campaigning, boasts no super-pac, and has spent only a small fraction of his personal fortune — and yet he’s far and away the GOP’s most likely nominee. But imagine where he’d be if he weren’t so cheap. The Donald’s bargain bid seems like it will prove effective enough, but if he put more effort into fund-raising and campaigning, there would probably be a lot less chatter about contested conventions right now. Perhaps more significantly, Trump’s failure to establish a broad donor network and campaign infrastructure has only fueled GOP operatives’ anxiety about the mogul’s chances against Clinton in November, Politico reports.

In February, Clinton managed to stay ahead of her socialist rival, even as Bernie Sanders outspent her $41 million to $31.6 million, according to FEC filings.