Thursday, October 27, 2016


This long Bloomberg Businesweek story by Joshua Green argues that the Trump campaign is building a serious foundation for a possible enduring Trump presence in American politics -- but I see something much more mercenary:
... after Trump locked down the GOP nomination by winning Indiana’s primary, {Trump's son-in-law Jared] Kushner tapped [Brad] Parscale, a political novice who built web pages for the Trump family’s business and charities, to begin an ambitious digital operation fashioned around a database they named Project Alamo.

... Powered by Project Alamo and data supplied by the RNC and Cambridge Analytica, [Parscale's] team is spending $70 million a month, much of it to cultivate a universe of millions of fervent Trump supporters, many of them reached through Facebook. By Election Day, the campaign expects to have captured 12 million to 14 million e-mail addresses and contact information (including credit card numbers) for 2.5 million small-dollar donors, who together will have ponied up almost $275 million. “I wouldn’t have come aboard, even for Trump, if I hadn’t known they were building this massive Facebook and data engine,” says Bannon. “Facebook is what propelled Breitbart to a massive audience. We know its power.”

Since Trump paid to build this audience with his own campaign funds, he alone will own it after Nov. 8 and can deploy it to whatever purpose he chooses. He can sell access to other campaigns or use it as the basis for a 2020 presidential run. It could become the audience for a Trump TV network. As Bannon puts it: “Trump is an entrepreneur.”
So Steve Bannon, who wants to expand the Breitbart media empire, and Jared Kushner, a real estate investor who also publishes The New York Observer and who's linked to Trump-branded businesses, have been amassing all this contact information about Trump zealots. The information that's collected, obviously, would be valuable for future Republican campaigns, Trump's or otherwise. Collecting this sort of data is a standard part of any major political campaign.

But here's what's not standard:
... neither Trump’s campaign nor the RNC has prioritized registering and mobilizing the 47 million eligible white voters without college degrees who are Trump’s most obvious source of new votes, as FiveThirtyEight analyst David Wasserman noted.
Right -- Team Trump isn't bothering to reach out to the unmotivated in the hope of persuading them to be Trump voters. That's what you do if you want to win an election. But maybe that's not what you do if you're really more interested in building a list of Trump hero-worshippers who might be the target market for future Trump-branded products. That may be what Kushner is thinking. Bannon may be thinking that he's interested only in those who are passionate believers in Trumpist politics.

I'm not saying that Trump doesn't really want to win the election. I think he desperately wants to win it. He's wanted to win it ever since it became clear that he could win it because winning the presidency would be the ultimate ego trip; now he wants to win just to save face.

But I'm not sure what his team really wants. And Trump's many detours from the campaign trail to promote Trump-branded properties, including the one this week at his D.C. hotel, suggest that Trump is quite ready to move on as well if he can't win the big prize.

The digital operation has made some effort to build up Trump's voter base:
Parscale was given a small budget to expand Trump’s base and decided to spend it all on Facebook. He developed rudimentary models, matching voters to their Facebook profiles and relying on that network’s “Lookalike Audiences” to expand his pool of targets. He ultimately placed $2 million in ads across several states, all from his laptop at home, then used the social network’s built-in “brand-lift” survey tool to gauge the effectiveness of his videos, which featured infographic-style explainers about his policy proposals or Trump speaking to the camera. “I always wonder why people in politics act like this stuff is so mystical,” Parscale says. “It’s the same shit we use in commercial, just has fancier names.”
But this isn't what you limit yourself to in a campaign. In campaign, you try to identify everybody who might vote for the candidate and work as hard as you can to get them all registered and drag them into the voting booth on the candidate's behalf. What the Trump team is doing is just an effort to find more enthusiastic Trumpers.

I don't think the long-term post-defeat plan is to build a political movement. I think Trump-branded products will increasingly be marketed to Trump admirers. And I think Steve Bannon has big Trumpist media dreams. But Trump as an ongoing political force? Not if he never reaches beyond his base.


Paul Montgomery said...

I think Trump's long play is to dominate the GOP and take it over like that plant that grows in the brain of ants. He doesn't care about recruitment outside the party. He is a voracious parasite, he will keep eating until the host is a lifeless husk.

Why sell products to them when they will give him $275M for nothing more than insult comedy? But he has to still be in politics for that to work.

Victor said...


I always said that I'm too anti-social to join "social media." That when they come-up with 'anti-social media,' I'd join.
Things like:
'In YOUR face book!'
Or, 'YOUR'RE a twit - now, go fuck yourself.'

Well this is it!
That day is finally here!

FUCK IT!!!!!
I'm still NOT joining it!

I may be anti-social, but I'm not an angry sociopath/psychopath, without empathy and/or feelings.

Just angry.
And guess what makes me angry?
Lunatics like Donnie "THe Whining Baby" and his t-RUMP-a-loon-pa's!

Dave S. said...

I see it as an expression of the two basic aspects of Trump's personality: laziness and narcissism.

Laziness: too much work to get those other guys. Cold-calling is for losers; give me the Glengarry leads!

Narcissism: some of those cold calls might reject him; that's no fun even though they are clearly losers.

Jimbo said...

Yes, Trump would like to be President if just for the ego trip but he has also made it abundantly clear that he regards policy making and governance as supremely BOOORRRRIIING and that he would just turn all that over to Pence.

His many rigged election accusations indicate that he knows he is very unlikely to win and he always knew this was going to be a possibility, which is why he has made sure to profit ($9 million and counting) by having events and campaign HQs at Trump properties. He's a grifter first and a politician oh maybe 14th down the list.

After the election, he'll focus exclusively on the grifts while Bannon does whatever he is planning to do with Breitbart and that database he has assembled. But Trump couldn't care less about the GOP at this point.

Four Bs said...

Donald Trump, president (and CEO) of Rubestan.

Feud Turgidson said...

Assume Max Bialystock only oversold the profits from Springtime For Hitler by a 5x, rather than the unmanageable 250x that surpassed Enronian into the L. Ronian. At 5x, or 10x, maybe a bit more, Leo could have cooked his books for The Producers to survive success, maybe as well or better than the failure they planned.

That's how I see Trump's campaign: it's run in a manner that Trump & his son-in-law foresee profit-taking either way, and at little to no cost to them.

A lot is being made of how Don John's campaign is hurting the viability of his other business interests. WHAT viability? There's no broadly sustainable future in golf resorts or grotesque parodies of luxury hotels.

Josh Green reports ongoing monthly expenses of $70m in establishing the Trump Facebook-based market. I doubt that number, but even more I doubt Trump is spending much if anything of it from his own. The Trump campaign has been replicating the Carson model, scooping up & bleeding off all proceeds from direct campaign funding to individuals. That's been a big contributing factor to the various R election campaigns below the headline ticket cutting off the Trump campaign from party funding.

Anyone who's watched Trump's rasslemaniacal productions will have noticed a moment or two in every one where he barely dips into lucidity, when he speaks sotto voce in a way that shows he recognizes he's not going to be elected by these disordered yahoos going nutso before him.

Grifters tend to be victimized by their own grifts, but a step removed from their patter, they'll admit to their cynicism. But POTUS campaigns have a way of sweeping such doubts into the corner. The candidate has to fire off in some many directions simultaneously and constantly, there's hardly for introspection, even if he were inclined to it, which he's not. So it shows up briefly when the crowd's going insane with him having said some things he knows are ignorant, irresponsible & insane.

Take comfort from this: Trump's business model is big glitzy failure. Plus he's 70, borderline morbidly obese, lazy, opportunistic & shallow. He's a septuagenarian grifter accustomed to feeling sure-footed among the rubes. When folks of that vintage fall, they don't have to fall very far or very hard to break a hip.

Frank Wilhoit said...

Where a "Trump Party" could thrive, and make immense trouble, is at the state level, where it will probably simply capture, and keep the name of, the Republican Party.

In the aftermath of Trump's defeat, what we are going to see is a swift divergence in practices of governance between states under Republican control and those under Democratic or divided control. Look for legislation and budgetary policy that is breathtakingly punitive towards the cities in states like Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin, Florida, North Carolina, etc. Economic collateral damage be damned. Look for extensive implicit nullification of Federal law, with no consequences. In short, secession by any other name.