Will The Earlier Republican Convention Help Donald Trump? There Are Some Unexpected Ways He Could Get Ahead
The Republican National Convention is this week, which means that Donald Trump could soon go from being the GOP's presumptive nominee to the party's official candidate. Typically, presidential candidates are not nominated by their respective parties until August or September. However, the GOP opted to hold the 2016 RNC earlier than normal in an attempt to help candidates fundraise and campaign. (The RNC was held in September in 2008, and late August during the 2012 election cycle.) The GOP's convention will take place in Cleveland, Ohio, from July 18 to 21 this year, but will the earlier RNC help Trump?
Yes, the earlier date will help the candidate, but probably not in the ways GOP leaders expected when they scheduled the convention back in 2014. At the time, no one really expected Trump to win the nomination; the Trump campaign's finances are atypical, and the candidate faces unusually strong backlash from within his party.
The main reason why the GOP decided to hold the RNC more than a month earlier than usual, according to POLITICO, is, unsurprisingly, about money. Until 2008, in order to regulate spending, nominees from both the Republican and Democratic parties relied on fundraising for primary campaigns, but spent public funds on the general election. However, in 2008, now-president Obama decided not to spend public funds on the election and instead relied on donors and super PACs, which allowed for a larger campaigning budget. (Trump didn't spend public funds either — he spent his own money on his primary campaign.)
However, candidates still have to monitor their spending, and can only spend funds raised for the primary elections until they are officially nominated at their party's convention.
In 2012, Mitt Romney ran out of primary money long before his official nomination in August, which affected how much he was able to spend on advertising and campaigning against Obama. Because of this, Romney had to take out a loan in order to fund his campaign before he became the GOP's official nominee in August 2012, The Washington Post reported.
Needless to say, the Republican Party did not want this to happen again. That's why the GOP decided to hold the RNC in July; the earlier a candidate is nominated, the earlier he or she can start spending general election funds.
However, the Republican Party certainly did not expect Trump would be the presumptive nominee when they decided on the early convention date back in 2014. Unlike previous candidates, Trump has self-funded much of his campaign, and therefore, is possibly less-affected fiscally by the earlier convention date. If the majority of the money funding Trump's presidential campaign is coming from The Donald himself, it may not make a difference when he spends his funds. That being said, Trump has begun to fundraise, and could use the donations his campaign receives to pay himself back. The sooner Trump can spend general election funds, the sooner he could possibly reimburse himself.
Yet, the early RNC could help Trump's campaign in ways that are not fiscal, too. Ever since Trump won the primaries, the "Never Trump" movement has grown; the sooner Trump can officially become the GOP's nominee, the better for his campaign. Without a doubt, having powerful members of the Republican party leading campaigns against the presumptive nominee casts a doubt on whether or not Trump will receive the nomination at the RNC — most nominees do not face such backlash from within their party. But it's almost certain that Trump will receive the GOP nomination, so the "Never Trump" movement will likely loose its steam soon after that happens. It certainly would've been bad for Trump if he had to wait until August or September for the "Never Trump" movement to be put to rest.
If Trump does win the GOP nomination at the convention in Cleveland, the billionaire will be able to begin campaigning even harder as the official GOP nominee, especially in swing-states like Ohio that Trump could actually win. Hillary Clinton has spent huge sums of money on advertisements in so-called "battleground states," but Trump has yet to do so. The Los Angeles Times reported that the self-funded candidate hasn't wanted to spend that much of his own money on his campaign. It's possible that after Trump receives the GOP nomination at the RNC, the Trump campaign will receive more donations once it's clear that he is the actual nominee.
If he does win the GOP nomination in Cleveland next week, Trump will have advantages Romney did not in 2012. But first, Trump has to be nominated, and there are still a lot of "Never Trump" Republicans who do not want that to happen.