More and more signs every day that Donald Trump is spectacularly unsuited to be a major party’s standard bearer. There’s the constant screech of dog whistles, the obnoxious comments flying in all directions, the persistent failure to stay on-message for more than about 15 minutes, and oh, that hair.
But perhaps more important than all of that is… money. Or the lack thereof. Trump’s coffers are nearly empty and his fundraising “machine” practically nonexistent.
This has repercussions far beyond the Trump/Clinton campaign, because a major party candidate usually provides money and organization for candidates up and down the ticket and the state parties. Talking Points Memo:
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 really bad news for the perennially impecunious VTGOP, whose own federal filing shows a piss-poor $11,190 in cash on hand. It can’t afford any significant campaign push, and it shouldn’t expect any help from the national party.
In 2012, by contrast, Mitt Romney may have been a stiff of a candidate, but boy, could he raise money. This meant a robust campaign structure for himself and his party — and a major direct boost to the VTGOP.
Many of Romney’s top donors reached the limit for individual contributions, so his campaign finagled a way to launder additional funds. They set up a special committee to funnel contributions through parties in states where the outcome was never in doubt, like Idaho, Oklahoma, and Vermont. The state parties then shunted the bulk of the funds (at the Romney camp’s bidding) to battleground states. The pass-through parties got a little cash for their trouble.
The VTGOP’s gratuity amounted to $20,000 per month. For Romney, that was chump change; for the VTGOP, it was a sorely-needed cash infusion. The state party raises a little more than $10,000 a month on average*, and generally spends more than that.
*Over the past 17 months, the VTGOP has received donations totaling $192,679. You do the math.
The VTGOP’s cash on hand isn’t even enough to keep the lights on for a month. It’s a terrible place to be as the campaign is kicking into high gear. And the party won’t be getting any money from Trump or the RNC.
That also holds true for organizing, data collection, get out the vote, and other behind-the-scenes operations. The Trump campaign has made no effort to build up those infrastructures, and the RNC is under-resourced as well.
The VTGOP is getting some indirect help from outside groups like the Republican State Leadership Committee, which poured nearly $400,000 into Vermont in a last-minute blitz in 2014 and has already started advertising in Vermont this time around. But that won’t help the party infrastructure, and it won’t help its gubernatorial nominee. Indeed, Trump and the national GOP will be more hindrance than help.