It wasn’t the year of Big Money after all

July 22, 2016


Donald Trump (R) criticizes rival Jeb Bush in a Republican primary debate in Manchester, New Hampshire, February 6, 2016. REUTERS/Rick Wilking

Billionaire supporters of Republican presidential hopefuls Ted Cruz and Jeb Bush donated record sums to the candidates and the SuperPACs that backed them. None of it was enough to help the two candidates beat Donald Trump in the race for the GOP nomination.

Reuters’ Michelle Conlin takes an incisive look at how and why the mega-donors had so little impact on Campaign 2016..

“Trump’s approach was unlike anything in the modern campaign playbook,” she explains in her analysis Dumb Money. “Pledging to self-fund his run, he adopted the persona of the outsider, blue-collar billionaire clad in custom suits and chowing down on McDonald’s. During the primaries, he employed virtually no pollsters or strategists, flying around the country in his gold-embossed Boeing-turned-headquarters to attend rallies—then flying home each night to sleep in his own bed.

“Trump wasn’t the only one giving big donors the finger,” she adds. “Just as the real estate tycoon startled his rivals with his unexpected wins, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders rattled Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton with his come-from-the-basement success, fueled by small donors who sent in an average of $27 each to his campaign.”

Read Conlin’s full analysis in “The American Voter,” Reuters’ special election issue, or download the app from iTunes or Google Play.

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