One of my favorite sites, electoral-vote.com, asks a very good question that I haven’t heard before: “How would Donald Trump Fund a General Election Campaign?” Most people assume he would just fund it himself with some of his billions, but it doesn’t work that way. A big percentage of Trump’s net worth is in his brand (or translating into English, his name). He makes money by licensing his name to other people. Most of the rest is in hotels, casinos, and other real estate, which he can’t just turn into cash instantly. In terms of cold cash, as the Daily Beast puts it, Trump is too poor to fund his own campaign.
Obama’s campaign cost him a cool $1.2 billion in cash, and Clinton will probably raise more than that. Suffice it to say that you can’t run a presidential campaign on free publicity you get from saying and doing outrageous things. So where could Trump get the money? Well, he could get a bunch from the traditional big donors, but that would destroy one of the main reasons people like him — that he is not beholden to donors and special interests. The man who says he can’t be bought would have to sell out.
And there is no chance he would get much money from the RNC, who are more likely going to spend money against him.
Maybe he could get money from small donors, but it takes money to raise money like that, and Trump doesn’t have it. He has some small donors now, but he would have to raise the number of donors an order of magnitude or more.
The bottom line is, Trump will likely be outspent at least 2:1, and probably more like 3 or even 4 to one, in the general election.