He had better be, because given the paucity of GOTV/ground game expenditures revealed by his campaign's fourth quarter FEC disclosures, that may be his only way of getting all these casual (i.e. conflates the American presidency with American Idol, Survivor, and Dancing With The Stars), first-time voter supporters of his that would be his margin of Iowa victory to the caucuses tonight:
A significant portion of [his $6.9 million in total expenditures], $940,000, was spent on campaign paraphernalia, including yard signs, bumper stickers, buttons, t-shirts and, of course, hats. In fact, about $450,000 ― or nearly 7% of all Trump’s fourth-quarter spending ― went towards hats, presumably including the now-iconic hats bearing Trump’s campaign slogan, “Make America [Russia With Style].”
That’s more money than the campaign paid its data vendor L2 (which received $235,000 for “research consulting”) or than it spent on strategy consulting ($281,000). It’s almost as much as the campaign spent on field consulting ($551,000) or payroll ($518,000).
Trump’s campaign did spend $793,000 on expenses related to the mega-rallies that have become his campaign’s hallmarks, as well as $459,000 on expenses related to having his name appear on primary election ballots.
But his highly unconventional campaign spending is likely to fuel questions about whether his campaign has built enough infrastructure to convert the energy he’s tapped into votes.
Yeah, about Trump's "highly unconventional campaign": what it is is the political equivalent of World Wrestling Entertainment....
....a company that is, by the way, not doing well at all and has been in decline for years. Not the, um, "conventional" definition of "greatness". All hype and glitz and no substance or ideological commitment. But I digress.
I realize - and never let a day go by without lamenting - that much of the Right is in a, um, "mania" of reactionary "the enemy of my enemy is my friend" rage these days, contributing to a "If this is tradition, we need to do the exact opposite" irrational caterwauling. But, y'see, tradition and convention usually become convention and tradition for a reason: Because those are the things that actually work and succeed. They're the best way to win. I have no doubt that Trump, in his multiversal conceit, believes that he can completely "upset the apple cart" and seize power by doing it "his way". The problem with multiversal conceit, though, is that it causes those who suffer from it to ignore boring, nuts & bolts details about, in this case, presidential campaigning that may just still be valid, and which his top rivals aren't ignoring.
This is another facet of "populism" that I can't stand: The idea that life is all romanticism and drama. Everybody in that mindset wants to cast themselves as the conquering hero, and if they retain enough of a grip on reality to grasp how impossible that is, they back somebody for whom they believe it isn't. But that's not how life works. Life is mostly struggle and disappointment and defeat, and whatever success one attains is invariably by way of long, hard, boring work. Something with which Trump himself is completely unfamiliar since he inherited his "family business" from his father, Fred Trump, and has done a, shall we say, "uneven" job of carrying it on. And yet he purports to be the "champion of blue-collar America". It would be laughable if a large chunk of "pink-slip" America wasn't mindlessly buying into this nonsense.
Meanwhile, Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio - those tiresome "traditionalists" - have paid attention to the boring, nuts & bolts details of "conventional" campaigning and - Cruz especially - have constructed impressive "ground games" to get their voters to the caucuses tonight. The contrast between them and Trump in that respect alone may produce, um, dramatic results:
Bottom line: What if most or all of these first-time/casual Trump voters....don't show up? Especially since these are caucuses, which requires a multi-hour commitment in somebody else's living room that won't allow any opportunity to watch The X-Files monster mash.
Trumplicans had better hope that their hero has a substantial pizza budget to lure them out of their basements. Or that he's telekinetic. Given that's he's already practicing mind control, that shouldn't be too big an expectation.
UPDATE: The Cruz campaign foresees no turnout spike:
Officials from many of the campaigns predict the number will fall somewhere between 125,000 and 140,000. A few even think the figure could remain relatively static at 122,000, arguing that Ron Paul drew many first-time caucus-goers in 2012 who won’t be back this time.
“With all these candidates, all this turnout effort, it’s logical that we’ll have a record turnout. But it’s illogical to think we’ll double the record turnout or that it’s going to go to 170,000,” says Iowa-4 representative Steve King, a Cruz supporter. “I think Cruz wins this in a close race, with a 135,000 turnout number as the over/under, and I think we go under that.”
The Cruz campaign has done extensive modeling on the caucuses and believes the turnout will ultimately fall between 133,000 and 137,000. Republicans familiar with Cruz’s analytics program say his team has modeled caucus electorates all the way up to 175,000 out of an abundance of caution, and feels confident that its man will prevail even if turnout reaches that high. The reason: Cruz will hold a lead of roughly 7,000 votes over Trump with a GOP electorate of 125,000, his allies say. Trump would need to win a huge plurality — if not a majority — of additional votes in order to offset Cruz’s lead.
For Trumplicans looking to parallel Hairboy's cult of personality to Barack Obama's, there is one towering difference between the two: Obama had an organizational juggarnaut, what may have been the best GOTV ground game in American political history. And all the Trumpcentric media hype not withstanding, Iowa GOP voter registrations are hardly up at all this cycle compared to 2012, while their 2008 Democrat counterparts doubled during the heyday of Hopenchange.
Maybe there is something to be said for convention and tradition and homework-doing after all. Or, to put in confectionery terms, the meringue in lemon meringue pie IS almost all hot air, after all. And closely resembles Trump's bouffant, come to think of it.
UPDATE II: Did Trump buy his big-name endorsements?:
Representative Steve King, an Iowa Republican and Ted Cruz supporter, says Donald Trump bought his endorsements. Trump recently received high profile endorsements from Maricopa County Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio, former Alaska governor Sarah Palin, and Liberty University president Jerry Falwell, Jr.
King reiterated his statement about the endorsements to the Daily Caller on Saturday during a Cruz rally at the Gateway Hotel and stressed that he “knows things.”
“He has, from a regular person’s perspective, unlimited resources and he’s willing to use whatever access he has in order to get the endorsements that he wants,” King explained.
Is King right? Who knows? But isn't the suggestion not just highly plausible, but pretty much a lead-pipe certainty?