There are rumors that the Republican Party is preparing for the possibility that Donald Trump quits the 2016 Presidential race. That makes no sense. No one is giving us any idea as to why Trump quits. What is it we don’t know here?
Rumors: Trump Quits
There have been numerous reports that the Republican Party leadership is preparing for the possibility that Donald Trump quits the 2016 Presidential race. The odds makers have even weighed in on it.
The problem is that none of this makes sense. He’s still within striking distance of Hillary Clinton. Many in the leadership believe he is hurting their brand, but after having been nominated at the party convention by overwhelming support, the leadership becomes largely ceremonial: what they think really doesn’t matter.
There is nothing in Trump’s demeanor that suggests he is considering quitting. He is waging the same aggressive, even belligerent campaign that he prosecuted so well in the primaries.
All of this seems to make no sense.
Trump Traffic & Revenues
Then a report comes out from Foursquare, a phone app that tracks where people go. Apparently, well over a year before the election some people were already voting for president.
With their feet.
Trump properties have been seeing fewer people at some of their locations. That doesn’t necessarily mean that the properties are seeing a decrease in revenues; but if not, then somebody has a lot of explaining to do.
One State, Two State, Red State, Blue State
The decrease in traffic seems obvious in hindsight. A lot of Trump properties are in blue states. In addition, it seems likely that the far left is more likely to read labels – on everything from raspberry jam to real estate – than any other segment of the political spectrum. So it would not be surprising that Trump Properties would see a decrease in revenues, particularly in blue states.
With that, there are those who think government should be run like a business, but one way in which it is not is the approach to market share. In politics, any number of votes over 50% is just fine. But in business, a drop of even 10% in revenues can prove ruinous.
Trump Tax Returns
That brings up another issue. Trump has refused to release his tax returns, citing an on-going IRS investigation. There is nothing illegal in this, but it has lead to much speculation about why he would refuse to do so. Some have suggested that his tax returns might show that he donates very little to charity. Others have suspected that his returns would show income tax evasion.
Some have even suggested that he is not under an IRS audit at all, he’s just prevaricating.
There is another possibility. It may be that the tax returns would reveal that Trump isn’t worth what he says he is.
Trump Net Worth
In this article from the Wall Street Journal, there is a discussion of Trump’s actual net worth. It’s not as clear as one might think. Trump values his worth at $4-6B, but the only independent evaluation in the article puts it well south of $1B. Trump even admits in the piece that the value depends on how he feels at the time, and that he exaggerates his net worth. In a lawsuit against an author who asserted that Trump’s real worth was only $150-250M, Trump sought damages because his negotiations are compromised if his net worth isn’t viewed as large enough.
One wonders if that would be true of his negotiations with voters, as well. It’s a very good question; the author claimed to have three independent assessments of Trump’s worth, and the court threw out Trump’s lawsuit.
To the point here, the WSJ article and numerous sources – including this Wikipedia article – point out that many Trump properties have gone bankrupt, many are not owned by Trump, and many others are only partly owned by him. A number of Trump properties simply license his name.
The Trump Brand
Which brings up a curious problem. If outside investors license the Trump name, and/or are part owners in Trump properties, what happens to their investments if Donald Trump damages the Trump brand? Any good contract has a morals clause, one that prohibits the parties from acting in ways that would compromise the reputation/value of the joint enterprise.
It’s interesting. Trump’s frankness on sensitive issues is solidifying the Republican base, while possibly liquefying his investments. If so, then Trump’s partners and investors have reason to invoke any morals clause for his political activities.
Take it a step further. NPR points out that in the past 60 years, three presidential candidates have stayed true to their primary messages, and did not deviate from the purity of their platform in the general election. They were Barry Goldwater, George McGovern, and Michael Dukakis.
Collectively, they lost the Electoral College vote 1,537 to 77.
What happens to the Trump brand if Donald loses 90+% of the Electoral College vote?
The Republican Brand
And what happens to the Republican brand in the same situation?
All of the foregoing might explain why the Republican leadership is preparing for Trump to quit the race: his business partners are about to hit him in his pocketbook. If so, then there are only two questions. First, is Reince Priebus calling the Trump investors, or are the Trump investors calling Reince Priebus?
Second, what are they waiting for?
Perhaps the Republican leadership can’t find a fill-in. Because if Trump drops out, then Ted Cruz is the obvious choice, he nabbed the most delegates after Trump. But the Republican leadership has a similar problem there. Ted Cruz has fought with his fellow Republicans so much, one might argue that however conservative he may be, he may not be a Republican.
The leadership would be fine with a John Kasich or a Marco Rubio, but it is not clear that the Republican base would show up and vote for either of them. How do you take a candidate with 60% of the convention delegates, summarily swap him off for a candidate with only 6%, and not go to the mattresses over it?
The Republicans and the Trump property investors don’t have a dilemma; ‘di’ is Greek for ‘two’. They have more than two problems to resolve, they have a polylemma.
The next few weeks should prove interesting.