The most valuable item the Trump campaign possesses at this point is not a jet or a fancy, high rise office space; it is the data they have collected on as many as fourteen million people. The campaign has harnessed the power of digital media unlike anything ever seen in national politics. Because of that, a whole new set of questions arises.
What will become of the data? Who knows if this will turn into some form of a media company or a new political party, or a hybrid of the two.
By Election Day, the campaign expects to have captured 12 million to 14 million e-mail addresses and contact information (including credit card numbers) for 2.5 million small-dollar donors, who together will have ponied up almost $275 million. (Source)
Trump owns this data as his personal property since he cultivated it as part of his campaign. After November 8, he is free to do with it as he pleases, which means he can sell it to someone else, hold on to it for a future run for office, or use it as a baseline for a whole new venture like a news network or website.
“Trump will get 40 percent of the vote, and half that number at least will buy into his claim that the election was rigged and stolen from him,” says Steve Schmidt, John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign chief and an outspoken Trump critic. “That is more than enough people to support a multibillion-dollar media business and a powerful presence in American politics.” Digital strategists typically value contact lists at $3 to $8 per e-mail, which would price Trump’s list of supporters anywhere from $36 million to $112 million.
In order to reach their target audience, which is primarily through Facebook, the group is spending $70 million a month. No matter what they decide to do, this is definitely a force to be reckoned with.
Comparatively, the RNC is spending approximately ten million dollars and has a dedicated staff of twelve to manage and beef up their list of six million donors.
It is highly possible that Trump goes all in with Steve Bannon, who already has the infrastructure in place with Breitbart, and end up with a massive far-right populist media conglomerate. This makes the most sense, especially considering Trump supporters feel disenfranchised by mainstream media.
“Trump supporters really don’t have a media outlet where they feel they’re represented—CNN has gone fully against Trump, MSNBC is assumed to be against Trump, and Fox is somewhere in the middle. What we found is that our people have organized incredibly well on the web. Reddit literally had to change their rules because it was becoming all Trump. Growing the digital footprint has really allowed us to take his message directly to the people.”
The terrifying part of this is CNN has Corey Lewendoski, who appears to still be part of the campaign; FOX is Hannity, O’Reilly, and Fox and Friends. It’s difficult to be more pro-Trump than these shows, but apparently the entire network has to go all in for it to count.
No matter what happens on Election Day, we won’t be free of Donald Trump. That’s just depressing.