Politico reports that many Republicans are upset that Trump “went dark” in the media the last week of the month. They note that Democrats are outspending Trump. But that overlooks that Trump received free advertising all week—in the form of eight full hours of the Republican National Convention.

August has been a blowout: Trump has been outspent on TV more than 2-to-1 over the past month, according to the media tracking firm Advertising Analytics. And in the last two weeks, Joe Biden is outpacing the president more than 5-to-1.

The shortfall comes at a pivotal moment in the campaign, with Biden essentially monopolizing TV advertising in key battlegrounds before the start of early voting. Trump has ceded the airwaves in Michigan and Pennsylvania, where he’s gone dark in August. In Wisconsin, Trump has been out-gunned more than 8-to-1.

CONVENTIONS = FREE ADVERTISING

It could be argued that only diehard Trump fans will be watching the convention, but that leads to a different issue. While Democrats are working to find new voters, Trump thinks he can double-down on certain issues, to draw out even more of the white voters who gave him the White House in 2016.

It “makes little sense to blow donor money on ads during convention weeks, when all of the national media is focused on the candidates anyway,” said Trump campaign spokesman Tim Murtaugh, who argued that Biden’s advertising barrage was to designed to compensate for his relatively light public schedule.

THE PRESIDENTIAL BULLY PULPIT

The article points out that any president can suck up media attention with any action that may be considered newsworthy. And, of course, no one knows how to “play” the media the way Trump can. Why pay for media when you can get it free?

Hardly a day goes by when Trump hasn’t found a way to be in the headlines, one way or another. If it’s not a policy change, it’s a new appointment, otherwise it’s fully fabricated stories—followed by talking heads debating whether the latest Trump claim is true—and even if it isn’t, he’s dominating the news.

Trump is the living proof of what P.T. Barnum is quoted as saying, “There’s no such thing as bad publicity.”

NEW MEDIA

There are other considerations. The media landscape has changed. In the past, people around the country gathered in front of the TV for news and entertainment. Today, computers and cell phones have taken much of that “viewership,” and Trump is on top of that.

In our own comment section, we have noted that Nielsen viewership for the DNC convention was down 40% from previous conventions. Then, we received news that the RNC convention Nielsen rating was even 15% lower than that.

Trump advisers note they have placed a premium on digital advertising, especially during the conventions. Between July 21 and August 15, the president’s campaign spent $31 million on Facebook and Google, while the Biden team invested $25 million, according to Advertising Analytics.

KNOCKING ON DOORS

An earlier article noted another Trump advantage: while Democrats have worried about personal contact during the pandemic, Trump people have been swarming.

Donald Trump’s campaign says it knocked on over 1 million doors in the past week alone. Joe Biden’s campaign says it knocked on zero. . .

Biden and the Democratic National Committee aren’t sending volunteers or staffers to talk with voters at home, and don’t anticipate doing anything more than dropping off literature unless the crisis abates. The campaign and the Democratic National Committee think they can compensate for the lack of in-person canvassing with phone calls, texts, new forms of digital organizing, and virtual meet-ups with voters. . .

Republicans say their door-knocking dominance could make a difference in November, since in-person conversations have long been considered the most effective type of voter contact. . .

Republicans say their door-knocking dominance could make a difference in November, since in-person conversations have long been considered the most effective type of voter contact. . .

The RNC declined to say whether any field staffers or volunteers have tested positive for Covid-19. . .

IT’S ALL ABOUT TURNOUT

As noted above, in a country that has a relatively low turnout rate. Generally, only about 60% of Americans who can vote actually do vote. And as we noted elsewhere, Trump won the White House with only 31% of registered voters. That might be different this year, since the 2018 turnout was 50%, when off-year elections are usually only about 40%. The 2018 turnout was the highest since 1914 (50.4%).

Anyway, Trump’s idea is that if he can fire up his base, he can turn out almost twice as many of his voters than in 2016—so he doesn’t need anyone beyond his base.

The base-only strategy is a gamble for Trump. . .But the base is also his safe space. If all that matters to Trump is that his dedicated supporters turn out in November, he can replace rosy language about national unity with appeals to their worries — above the six-figure Covid-19 death count or the images of protesters being forcibly dispersed by police. Instead, he’s focusing on images of burning churches and badly beaten shop owners that he’s been quick to blame on “rioters, looters and anarchists.”. . .

Trump supporters’ disappointment with his response to the violent outbreaks that have occurred during otherwise peaceful protests over the police killing of George Floyd is the primary reason the president has made overt gestures to his base in recent days, according to an outside adviser to his 2020 campaign. The president was furious after several conservative pundits sarcastically questioned his whereabouts at the start of the week while he remained out of public view following a weekend of protests, the adviser said. , ,

Conservative author Ann Coulter at one point mocked Trump for being preoccupied with “some very promising Joe Scarborough leads,” referring to the president’s repeated attempts to link the MSNBC host to the 2001 death of a staffer.

MONEY NOT THE MAIN DETERMINANT ANYMORE

But let’s get back to our main question. Does money matter? It may have in 2008 and 2012 when Obama outspent McCain 3-1 and Romney 4-3. Going back, Bush outspent Kerry and Gore. Clinton outspent Dole and GHW Bush. Bush outspent Dukakis, Reagan outspent Mondale and Carter, Nixon outspent McGovern and Humphrey.

However, 2016 was different. Hillary spent almost $600 million, while Trump spent less than half that. Part of that is that Trump so powerfully controls the media he pretends to hate. And that was without the free megaphone of the presidency. Anyone who thinks Biden has an easy path to the White House is overlooking a lot of important details.