Donald Trump’s ability to remain the undisputed GOP frontrunner in December even though he has hardly spent any money on traditional television advertising that enriches consultants in the permanent political class is why he represents an “existential threat” to the established political order. In the newest CNN/ORC poll that was released Friday, Trump has a commanding 20-point lead, which reportedly marks “Trump’s highest support and widest lead since he first announced his candidacy.”
Trump may indeed be establishing a blueprint that other candidates could follow in the future to put many in the stale permanent political class—many of whom are career mercenaries who care more about using politics to line their pockets than the interests of the candidates they purportedly support—out of business. He even mocked Jeb Bush this week on the campaign trail in Georgia for wasting millions on television ads that have not helped the former Florida governor’s flailing poll numbers and campaign.
NBC News reported this week that Trump has spent the least amount of money ($227,000) on television commercials during this election cycle. Even more astonishing is the fact that establishment GOP candidates Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, John Kasich, and Marco Rubio have an 18-1 advantage on television ads than the three outsider/non-politician candidates that are leading in nearly every poll—Trump, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), and Dr. Ben Carson. Bush, who tops the list, registered just 3% in the latest CNN/ORC poll.
According to NBC News, here is how much each candidate and their allies have spent to date on television ads:
• Team Bush: $28.9 million ($28.4M from Right to Rise Super PAC, $460K from campaign)
• Team Rubio: $10.6 million ($8.5M from Conservative Solutions 501c4, $640K from Conservative Solutions Super PAC, $1.5M from campaign)
• Team Clinton: $9.7 million ($9.5 million from campaign, $200K from Priorities USA Super PAC)
• Team Kasich: $8 million (all from two outside groups)
• Team Christie: $6.4 million ($6M from America Leads Super PAC, $400K from campaign)
• Team Sanders: $4.9 million (all from campaign)
• Team Carson: $2 million ($1.9M from campaign, $73K from 2016 Committee outside group)
• Team Paul: $869,000 ($743K from America’s Liberty Super PAC, $125K from campaign)
• Team Cruz: $665,000 ($462K from campaign, rest from Super PACs)
• Team Trump: $217,000 (all from campaign)
In an October piece that Newsweek picked up, the Hoover Institution’s Alvin Rabushka argued that the real reason the political establishment hates Trump is because of his ability to succeed without the “political election industry.”
“You see, it’s not so much that he is running as a Republican that frightens the political establishment,” Rabuska wrote. “It fears that if he wins, others could seek office in the same way. A Trump victory threatens to put the political industry out of business as it is now.”
Rabushka wrote that “the political election industry is a multibillion dollar enterprise” and “its ranks include the following”:
He pointed out that “the industry is used to dominating presidential elections” and “it is the go-to crowd that determines who deserves to be a candidate, win each party’s nomination and ultimately secure the presidency. The industry regards itself as uniquely qualified to determine who is qualified to participate in the political process.”
Rabushka observed that Trump “has come under a withering barrage of criticism” for bypassing this “club”:
How dare he intrude in the “club?” How dare he campaign for the presidency without the blessing of the “club?”…How dare he expose his critics? How dare he use social media to bypass the political industry? How dare he draw large, enthusiastic crowds? How dare he speak the language of the American people instead of the prepped, canned language of the political class?
How did Claudius become emperor of Rome? After the assassination of Caligula, the Praetorian Guard anointed Claudius emperor. “Why,” asked Claudius? “Because,” said the head of the Guard,” without an emperor, there is no need for the Praetorian Guard.
Without traditional candidates like Clinton, Bush, Kasich, Huckabee, Christie, Santorum, Pataki and others, there is no need for the Political Establishment’s Praetorian Guard. Trump threatens to undermine the political establishment order of things.
This week, David Frum, the former George W. Bush speechwriter, Tweeted that Trump poses an “existential” threat because he is “challenging the rule of money over the GOP.”
Carson is wacky, but Trump is challenging the rule of money over the GOP. The first is unsettling; the latter, an existential threat
— David Frum (@davidfrum) November 28, 2015
The New York Times recently noted that Trump’s “ability to command media attention and reach voters without depleting his campaign funds is just the latest example of the way that his campaign has upended the conventional approach candidates have used to communicate with voters.” The Times pointed out that Trump has also been “effective in using social media to attack his rivals, and many of his acrid and controversial quips on Twitter are rebroadcast by traditional news media outlets.”
It is then not surprising that one of Trump’s fiercest and most notorious critics on the airwaves this election cycle has been GOP establishment consultant Rick Wilson, who even declared that the donor class must “go out and put a bullet in Donald Trump.”
But big-time GOP establishment donors like Sheldon Adelson and the Koch brothers have been reluctant to take on Trump. One “major donor to a Trump rival” told Time that it would be a waste of money to take on Trump because “your 30-second spot can’t trump” his ability to go over the heads of the mainstream media and the “GOP smart set” or what Rabushka labeled as the “political election industry.”
This week on the campaign trail, Trump told his supporters that “we’re driving the Republican establishment crazy” and “they don’t know what to do.”