If money is the mother’s milk of politics, Trump’s acolytes are severely malnourished.
If money is the mother’s milk of politics, Trump’s acolytes are severely malnourished. As Josh Kraushaar notes for National Journal, not a single Trump-backed federal candidate raised $1 million in the last three months of the year. Many raised abysmally pitiful totals. John Gibbs, Trump’s pick for Michigan’s 3rd Congressional District, raised only $51,000. Trump’s favorite in the Alabama Senate primary, Rep. Mo Brooks, raised only $386,000; both of his major competitors topped $1 million. Even Harriet Hageman, Trump’s favorite to take out Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney, brought in only $443,000. If Team Trump can’t even raise money to beat Cheney, something’s going wrong.
These candidates may expect Trump to spend on their behalf, but history does not necessarily show he will. In Texas’s special election for the 6th Congressional District last summer, Trump’s super PAC waited until the last weekend before the election to spend $100,000 in support of his candidate, Susan Wright. Her campaign was also plagued by poor fundraising, and she ended up losing to then-State Rep. Jake Ellzey.
Trump’s PAC upped its buy in the next special election featuring a Trump endorsement, spending $300,000 to back coal executive Mike Carey for Ohio’s 15th Congressional District. But Carey spent more on his own behalf — at least $460,000 before the crucial GOP primary — than Trump did. Clearly, endorsees waiting for Trump to spend liberally on their races could be waiting a long time.
They might also be lacking the other factor that winning candidates need: a persuasive message. Most have little to distinguish themselves from their Republican opponents other than Trump’s “complete and total endorsement.” But recent poll data shows that Republican voters are increasingly moving away from blind personal devotion to the former president. The NBC News poll has for years tracked whether Republicans are more supporters of Trump or the party. In October 2020, that measure favored Trump by a 54-38 margin. Their most recent January poll showed the numbers reversed, with GOP voters saying they backed the party more than Trump by a 56-36 margin.
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