After winning the nomination in a ridiculous 16 ring circus of the weakest imaginable Republican primary contenders, Trump boasted how he would win deep blue states like New York, New Jersey, Oregon, Connecticut and California. He even wasted time and resources campaigning– or at least holding his vanity rallies– in this states. But he's losing all of them by huge margins. Yesterday the Public Policy Institute of California released a poll showing Trump with the lowest numbers in memory for any Republican nominee, just 28%. The only thing even close in the last century was Alf Landon's 31% against FDR in 1936, 80 years ago. Even Romney won 37% of California's votes. A Siena poll in New York last week, showed Trump with 30% and a Farleigh Dickenson poll of New Jersey voters last week had Trump at 40%. The latest poll from Oregon has him at 36% and the latest poll from Connecticut has him at 35%. So much for those predictions. (Trump is doing even worse in Vermont, where he's only polling 22%.)
Yesterday, Joshua Green and Sasha Issenberg, writing for Businessweek reported that “To compensate for this, Trump’s campaign has devised another strategy, which, not surprisingly, is negative. Instead of expanding the electorate, Bannon and his team are trying to shrink it. 'We have three major voter suppression operations under way,' says a senior official. They’re aimed at three groups Clinton needs to win overwhelmingly: idealistic white liberals, young women, and African Americans. Trump’s invocation at the debate of Clinton’s WikiLeaks e-mails and support for the Trans-Pacific Partnership was designed to turn off Sanders supporters. The parade of women who say they were sexually assaulted by Bill Clinton and harassed or threatened by Hillary is meant to undermine her appeal to young women. And her 1996 suggestion that some African American males are 'super predators' is the basis of a below-the-radar effort to discourage infrequent black voters from showing up at the polls– particularly in Florida.”
Bannon, Mercer, Bossie, Stone and the other neo-Nazis and Alt-right true believers may believe the immense data bank the Trump campaign is amassing in San Antonio will be used to build an even further right and more extreme alternative to the Republican Party, Trump and his family, no doubt see it through the eyes of practiced grifters and swindlers– a way to turn on a spigot of cash flow. And they may need it. The Trump brand is definitely in the toilet across the globe. This past summer I was visiting Azerbaijan, primarily Baku, I noticed that there was a huge hulking Trump Tower in the middle of the glittering skyline. But the ostentatious new property, heavily promoted by Trump and Ivanka, was empty. In fact, it was closed down, having only opened for a week before firing the entire staff and shutting down the operation. Presumably they'll remove the toxic logo that the local bandits who own the building, the notorious Mammadov family, paid Trump to use, and re-open it under less toxic name– like Motel 6 Baku. They already tried burning it down for the insurance money. And Baku isn't the only city where the Trump name is keeping hotel rooms empty… even at heavily discounted prices.
The prestigious new hotel in DC that he's always trying to drum up business for is the cheapest 5-star in Washington– and the most empty. And the Trump Towers in Istanbul, where the president of the country demanded the name be changed, is desperate to sell over a dozen luxury apartments that no one will buy even at very deep discounts.
Property Turkey is privileged to offer to its clients 15 luxury apartments available for sale below market value within Istanbul's prestigious Trump Towers. This is a one-off offer for a limited period only and on a limited number of apartments.
Trump Towers located in between Sisli and Mecidiyekoy is one of Istanbul's landmark mix-use complexes, where residences and commercial units always command a premium. The complex is one of Istanbul's most prestigious.
CNN reported that travel agents and events planners are avoiding the Trump brand entirely. In DC, “room rates also indicate the hotel may be lagging behind its competition. A Tuesday night stay at the Trump hotel was priced at $505 on Hotels.com, more than $200 cheaper than five-star alternatives like the Four Seasons and the Jefferson. Comparable hotels like the downtown Ritz-Carlton and Hay-Adams, meanwhile, had no open rooms.” The new hotel “has been the target of protests and vandalism since it opened last month. And its namesake's presidential campaign has made the Trump name awkward at best and toxic at worst for those who specialize in the hotel industry. 'There certainly are people who are concerned about the message they send by spending money in Trump-branded hotels,' said David Loeb, a senior hotel analyst at the Robert W. Baird private equity firm. Brand research studies suggest those concerns are taking hold. A Foursquare analysis showed foot traffic at Trump's hotels, casinos and golf clubs is down 16% this year. And a Young & Rubicam report released Tuesday shows consumers think Trump himself is less fun, trendy and stylish than he was three months ago. That's bad news for Trump, who claims his name is worth more than $3 billion in real estate licensing and branding deals. Industry analysts say that number is exaggerated.”
Travel + Leisure doesn't, as a rule, slag off potential advertisers, but the news is all over the hospitality industry: Trump Hotels Ditching Name For New Hotels. I don't know if Trump plans on having Barron run the business, but his new hotel ventures will be called “Scion.”
Amidst reports that occupancy rates at Trump Hotels have slipped this election season, the company has announced that new brand hotels will no longer bear the Trump name.
The newest line of luxury hotels, geared towards millennials, will be called Scion, the company said.
…Although Trump Hotels has said the new name has nothing to do with the eponymous businessman’s presidential campaign, empty rooms at the hotels have caused officials “to reduce rates during the peak season,” according to New York Magazine.
…According to Hipmunk, bookings at Trump Hotels plummeted 59 percent during the first half of 2016 and data from Foursquare shows a 17 percent drop in foot traffic at Trump properties since June 2015, when the reality TV star announced his presidential bid.
Yesterday Toronto's Financial Post announced what amounts to a bankruptcy for that city's Trump International Hotel & Tower. The Trump Organization licensed Trump's name to the building and manages it.
JCF Capital ULC, a closely held firm, recently bought the construction loan on the 65-story hotel and condominium building, and claims developer Talon International Inc. and related companies defaulted on making payments since last year. JCF Capital is seeking a court-supervised sales process for the property to recoup the outstanding $301 million on the debt, according to court filings made Tuesday under Canada’s bankruptcy and insolvency act.
…The court filing is the latest in the decade-long saga of the building, Trump’s first branded hotel in Canada. Since construction began in 2007, the tower has been subject to lawsuits against Donald Trump’s firm and Talon from investors who say they were duped; a court battle to end Trump’s management agreement; and protests after the U.S. presidential candidate made comments about Mexicans, Muslims, and women during his campaign.
Earlier this year, Talon attempted to sell the property after defaulting on the loan, originally given by Raiffeisen Bank International AG in 2007, the court documents show. JCF Capital acquired the loan on Oct. 3 and sent a notice to Talon twice this month asking for repayment.
The debt matured in December of last year and Talon has been in default since July 2, 2015, JCF Capital said.
The owners of the property are firms associated with Russian-born billionaire Alex Shnaider and his former business partner on the project, Val Levitan, and include Midland Development Inc. and a few numbered companies. These entities are the only shareholders of Talon, according to the court documents. Midland has already agreed to appoint a receiver, the documents show. Levitan didn’t immediately respond to an e-mail seeking comment.
Now back to the Businessweek report we started with– the data that will be very meaningful and valuable after we find out in 11 days whether Trump manages to get above 40% or not and now many Republican office holders he drags down into the toilet with him.
Since Trump paid to build this audience with his own campaign funds, he alone will own it after Nov. 8 and can deploy it to whatever purpose he chooses. He can sell access to other campaigns or use it as the basis for a 2020 presidential run. It could become the audience for a Trump TV network. As Bannon puts it: “Trump is an entrepreneur.”
Whatever Trump decides, this group will influence Republican politics going forward. These voters, whom Cambridge Analytica has categorized as “disenfranchised new Republicans,” are younger, more populist and rural– and also angry, active, and fiercely loyal to Trump. Capturing their loyalty was the campaign’s goal all along. It’s why, even if Trump loses, his team thinks it’s smarter than political professionals. “We knew how valuable this would be from the outset,” says Parscale. “We own the future of the Republican Party.”
…Soon after Trump secured the nomination, a team from the RNC flew to San Antonio to meet Parscale at his favorite Mexican restaurant and discuss what party officials began describing as “the merger.” Priebus boasted then of having put “more than $100 million into data and infrastructure” since Mitt Romney’s 2012 loss. More than 10 percent of that cash went solely to beefing up the RNC’s e-mail list, which now has a dedicated department of a dozen people managing a list of more than 6 million supporters. To win access to them, Trump negotiated a partnership. The party’s online fundraising specialists would use his name and keep 80 percent of the revenue, while Trump’s campaign would get the remainder. “This is exactly what the party needed the RNC to do—building assets and infrastructure and the nominee gets to benefit from it,” says Chief Digital Officer Gerrit Lansing.
Trump’s team, which hadn’t actively raised money during the primaries, was unprepared. “I was put in the position of ‘We need to start fundraising tomorrow,’ ” says Parscale. That turn was so hasty that when, in late June, Trump sent out his first e-mail solicitation, it ended up in recipients’ spam folders 60 percent of the time. Typically marketers in that situation would have begun quietly blasting less important messages from a new server to familiarize spam filters with the sender’s address. Parscale shrugs off the ensuing criticism from technologists. “Should I have set up an e-mail server a month earlier? Possibly,” he says. “We also raised $40 million in two weeks. Woo-hoo, spam rating.”
Parscale was building his own list of Trump supporters, beyond the RNC’s reach. Cambridge Analytica’s statistical models isolated likely supporters whom Parscale bombarded with ads on Facebook, while the campaign bought up e-mail lists from the likes of Gingrich and Tea Party groups to prospect for others. Some of the ads linked directly to a payment page, others– with buttons marked “Stand with Trump” or “Support Trump”– to a sign-up page that asked for a name, address, and online contact information. While his team at Giles-Parscale designed the ads, Parscale invited a variety of companies to set up shop in San Antonio to help determine which social media ads were most effective. Those companies test ad variations against one another– the campaign has ultimately generated 100,000 distinct pieces of creative content– and then roll out the strongest performers to broader audiences. At the same time, Parscale made the vendors, tech companies with names such as Sprinklr and Kenshoo, compete Apprentice-style; those whose algorithms fared worst in drumming up donors lost their contracts. Each time Parscale returned to San Antonio from Trump Tower, he would find that some vendors had been booted from their offices.
Parscale’s department not only paid for itself but also was the largest source of campaign revenue. That endeared it to a candidate stingy with other parts of the budget. When Trump fired his campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, Parscale’s responsibilities grew, then further still when Lewandowski’s replacement, Paul Manafort, flamed out. In June, Parscale, whose prior political experience was a Bexar County tax assessor’s race (his client lost), became Trump’s digital director and, in many ways, the linchpin of his unusual run.
By the time Bannon became chief executive officer, Parscale had balanced the competition between the RNC and Cambridge Analytica, with different sources of data being tapped for the campaign’s fundraising appeals, persuasive communication, and get-out-the-vote contacts. “I’m the only one that hasn’t gained from any of this,” he says pointedly about the data rivalry.
In June, Parscale granted his first national interview, to Wired, to preemptively explain why the Federal Election Commission was about to report that an unknown agency in San Antonio was the Trump campaign’s largest vendor. In August, Giles-Parscale handled $9 million in business from Trump’s campaign; two months later, the company’s total haul had cleared $50 million, most of it money passing through to online ad networks at little markup. Parscale was delivering his services at such a discount that Kushner even worried that the agency’s efforts might have to be classified as an in-kind contribution. “Jared’s a big part of what gave me my power and ability to do what I’ve been doing,” says Parscale, who sees himself as more than just a staffer. “Because you know what I was willing to do? I was willing to do it like family.”
There are signs that Trump’s presidential run has dealt a serious blow to his brand. His inflammatory comments about Mexican “rapists” and demeaning comments about women triggered a flood of busted deals and lost partnerships. Macy’s stopped making Trump-branded menswear, Serta halted its line of mattresses emblazoned with his logo, and celebrity chefs fled his new luxury hotel in Washington. Booking websites show that visits to Trump-branded hotels are down. Win or lose, Trump’s future may well lie in capitalizing on the intense, if limited, political support he has cultivated over the past year.
According to a source close to Trump, the idea of a Trump TV network originated during the Republican primaries as a threat Kushner issued to Roger Ailes when Trump’s inner circle was unhappy with the tenor of Fox News’s coverage. The warring factions eventually reconciled. But Trump became enamored by the power of his draw after five media companies expressed interest. “One thing Jared always tells Donald is that if the New York Times and cable news mattered, he would be at 1 percent in the polls,” says the source. “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.”
It’s not clear how much of this digital audience will remain in Trump’s thrall if he loses. But the number should be substantial. “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. The Trump enterprise could benefit from it in any number of ways. The easiest move would be for Trump to partner with Bannon’s global Breitbart News Network, which already has a grip on the rising generation of populist Republicans. Along with a new venture, Trump would gain a platform from which to carry on his movement, built upon the millions of names housed in Project Alamo. “This is the pipe that makes the connection between Trump and the people,” says Bannon. “He has an apparatus that connects him to an ever-expanding audience of followers.”
As it happens, this cross-pollination of right-wing populist media and politics is already occurring overseas– and Trump’s influence on it is unmistakable. In early October, the editor-in-chief of Breitbart London, Raheem Kassam, a former adviser to Nigel Farage, announced he would run for leader of UKIP. His slogan: “Make UKIP Great Again.”
The final ignominy for a Republican Party brought low by Trump is that its own digital efforts may undermine its future. The data operation in which Priebus and the RNC invested so heavily has fed into Project Alamo, helping Parscale build Trump’s base. “They brought to the table this movement and people who were willing to donate and activate, and we brought to the table a four-year investment and said we can process that for you,” says Sean Spicer, the RNC’s chief strategist. “That willingness to embrace what the RNC built allowed them to harness that movement.”
If the election results cause the party to fracture, Trump will be better positioned than the RNC to reach this mass of voters because he’ll own the list himself– and Priebus, after all he’s endured, will become just the latest to invest with Trump and wind up poorer for the experience.
“When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying the cross.” — Sinclair Lewis