I've read various reports about Trump not spending much money in the presidential election.

In hindsight, him not spending much money in the primaries made sense, as he got so much "earned coverage" that "paid coverage" wasn't necessary, and the polling for him was so good, but the main election doesn't seem to be like that. He's trailing behind Clinton, and yet he's spending substantially less than her.

Is he deliberately spending less than her? If so, it doesn't seem to be working. Is he unable to get funding? Doesn't big business often give more to Republicans than Democrats, and why isn't he self-funding more?

  • 3
    Because he has less?
    – rougon
    Oct 29, 2016 at 23:25
  • 5
    "Doesn't big business often give more to Republicans than Democrats" - in short, no. Wall Street/financial industry in particular favours Democrats heavily. And Hillary, with her support for TPP etc... if more in the pocket of "big business" than populist like Trump is, at least based on rhetoric alone.
    – user4012
    Oct 29, 2016 at 23:33
  • 6
    In the previous two elections, the Democrats were also better funded than the Republicans.
    – Philipp
    Oct 30, 2016 at 1:18
  • Note that while he is running as a republican, it's not like he's kept a lot of friends in the GOP. His campaign is spending less because they have less.
    – user1530
    Oct 30, 2016 at 6:23
  • Thd GOP does tend to get more from big business than the dems but note that in the case of trump, the GOP doesn't like him. opensecrets.org/orgs/list.php
    – user1530
    Oct 30, 2016 at 6:30

1 Answer 1


Why is Trump spending less than Hillary Clinton?

There are a few reasons to this:

  1. Campaign strategy

    • Trump's not running a conventional campaign - relying on huge donations then buying airwaves. He's relying on small donations and getting his message out through social media instead. By utilising social media, the cost is definitely cheaper than advertising on television.
  2. RNC's joint fundraising committees

    • Trump doesn't have a good ground game; he has lesser field offices and employs lesser staff. It would be too late to start a ground game now and it's too costly. So, since his polling numbers isn't ideal currently, there will be pressure from the RNC if he is to use funds from the RNC's joint fundraising committees since they are meant for all tickets up and down the ballot.
  3. Cash on hand

    • His reliance on small-amount donations doesn't help him to raise large amounts of cash. From the start, his fundraising has lagged behind Hillary Clinton's. Without a large amount of cash in hand, he won't be able to spend a lot.
    • This graphic from The Washington Post shows how much each campaign raised. It's $1.3B vs $795M as of now.

Is he deliberately spending less than her?

You can put it this way. It's his campaign strategy. It has proved to be successfully in the primaries, but not so in the general.

If so, it doesn't seem to be working.

It actually depends. If you define "working" as leading in the polls, then there are other factors to take into account. His policies, his rhetoric, etc. also contributes to the success of the campaign. Many factors contributes to the measure of a campaign.

Is he unable to get funding?

He relies on small-amount donors and he doesn't hold fundraisers as often unlike Clinton.

As of mid-October, Trump only has $16 million on hand, and some additional cash in joint accounts he controls. In comparison, Hillary Clinton had $62.4 million.

That's indeed quite less.

Doesn't big business often give more to Republicans than Democrats,

It isn't necessarily true. Wall Street favours Democrats to Republicans. Also, Trump rhetoric has turned off some past donors to the Republicans. Republicans themselves are not particularly happy with their nominee. With all these reasons, Republicans are lagging behind Democrats in fundraising.

and why isn't he self-funding more?

It's costly to self-fund. He knows that his polling numbers aren't that good and he definitely won't want to spend more money on his campaign.

“I mean, do I want to sell a couple of buildings and self-fund? I don’t know that I want to do that necessarily, but I really won’t be asking for money for myself, I’ll be asking money for the party.”

~ Trump in May 2016.

But he did contribute another $10m to his campaign on Friday. He has promised to self-fund a total of $100 million to his campaign.

"As of Friday, he had contributed $65.5 million in cash and a half-million dollars more of in-kind rent and staff salaries."

  • You should block-quote the quotes with citations if possible.
    – Batman
    Oct 30, 2016 at 3:05
  • I'd add that his business strategy for every company he ever worked with has involved minimal investment from himself and dependent primarily on others investments, allowing him to stay safe even in the event that the investment flops or goes bankrupt. His lack of self-funding is in keeping with how he treats other expensive endeavors, and likely for much the same reason.
    – dsollen
    Nov 1, 2016 at 21:45

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