THE COST OF INSURGENCY
When a political candidate runs against the status quo, the label most often assigned is one of an insurgency campaign. Donald Trump comes immediately to mind. In Trump’s case, he’s running against the massive status quo of Washington, D.C., both political parties, political correctness, global business interests….well, just about every entrenched interests in the world from George Soros to the United Nations.
Simply put, Trump’s campaign is the mother of all insurgencies!
Recent news suggests that Trump will not raise the BILLION dollars needed to successfully run such a campaign. Trump scoffs at such a price tag. Trump has said he can do it for half this amount even though Hillary Clinton will most assuredly be able to raise a billion dollars for her campaign.
A recent New York Times story says Trump has about 6 staffers housed at his campaign headquarters in the Trump Tower in New York City. 6 staffers! Clinton probably has some 300 staffers! Trump says he will be hiring more-get your resumes ready-but the difference is shocking and probably scary for many Trump proponents.
So whose right, the experts who believe close to a billion dollars is necessary or Trump who argues half of that is necessary?
Having run a number of insurgents I have often been in Trump’s position, albeit on a much smaller scale. My advice has always been simple: keep the staff to a minimum and the campaign media to a maximum. Spend money on television, radio and social media and not on overhead. Make pronouncements that are news worthy instead of hiring two more press assistants to write press releases. Do a few things very well and forget those you cannot afford to do.
Generally, this will be an effective strategy for a smaller campaign but will it work in the Big Show? It must might. This election will not be decided by the preponderance of campaign funds. If Trump has enough money to run an aggressive voter turnout operation and field some quality ads at the right time with a sufficient frequency and use social media effectively (which he has shown himself a master}, he just might be right. However, seeing 3 Clinton ads to your 1 ad may become a bit sickening to Trump. The good news, however, is he’s used to this. It happened in the primaries, but the primaries aren’t the General Election.
For the undecided voters, Trump is banking on free media coverage-press coverage dominates a presidential election-and the debates that will most assuredly happen. These debates will be the most watched in the history of presidential politics. Moreover, Trump generates media coverage in unprecedented portions. Thus, there will be no shortage of media that is not purchased.
In short, there’s reason to Trump’s apparent madness. It’s a high risk, high return operation but that’s Trump. What it is not is a comparatively YUGE money risk.
One important by-product of Trump’s lower money strategy is that it plays into his message of independence. Trump is refusing to proceed along the cocktail, hand holding dance with big donors. He is just not interested. So, when Trump argues he’s independent, he’s going to fight for the people, and he’s not selling out to Wall Street, he is demonstrating it clearly in his campaign. This is message rich.
A candidate has to be disciplined in both message and money to pull off such a lower cost insurgency. Trump has demonstrated he has the discipline for the second but he’s still grappling with staying on message. My advice: learn quickly and let the judge controversy be a lesson. The main stream media, as the right likes to call the national crowd, is not Trump’s friend. Given Trump’s bashing of the press several weeks ago, they will be hyper vigilant to make Trump look terrible.
The price of insurgency is the willingness to take enormous risks/gamble/roll the dice. Trump is going to run a lean, mean election machine. He will also be running a massive risk. Either he will again prove pundits and experts wrong or he will fail and the failure will be miserable. It’s the Donald.
I like Trump’s bet, but I am glad I am not playing his hand.
More to come….