Donald Trump is a very successful real estate mogul. His net worth well above $10 billion is an American success story very few have achieved. Of course, he’s had his fair share of struggles, and his critics suggest that not everything is above board.
To be successful in business, one must know and understand the rules. Deal making is an art form that Trump is an unequivocal master. But, in business, deals that go wrong are often because someone forgot to read the contract, understand the local laws, and get the right people together to help deal with any obstacles.
For his part, Trump has seemed to defy all logic of deliberative campaigning. He’s self-funded; he leverages his media savvy to get free advertising on all the major networks to push his message. All he needed to do was understand how to get a following and to tailor his message so that it would generate news – which means continuous coverage.
I am certain Trump understood his media dynamic because as long as he was in the news, the news organizations would also make money. As CBS’s Les Moonves said, “It may not be good for America, but it’s damn good for CBS.” From a tactical standpoint, it was good business.
Unfortunately, Trumps strategy to win seems to be missing a large part of what any good businessman would do before going all in on such a huge risk: Due Diligence. It may be the biggest lesson he will have to learn.
Candidates have to be extremely organized down to the lowest levels. This is called the “ground game”. Many have attributed President Obama’s success at winning a second term by a focused, organized ground game to secure votes in key swing states, places his team knew Obama needed to counter the red states Obama would never win.
For the GOP delegate selection, the Cruz campaign has put together the same kind of focused organization. In his latest coups, the Cruz campaign has managed to get favorable delegates elected to the convention in states that Trump has won that will give Cruz the edge if the balloting has to go to a second vote. While some delegates are bound to the first vote, the Cruz campaign had enough foresight to figure out how to stack the deck in his favor by learning the local rules and getting involved early. In other words, Cruz is playing it for the long haul to win the prize. He’s done his due diligence.
In response, Trump has sounded the clarion call about the “corruption” of the process to his vast army of Trumpkins. And while they are busy trying to protect their man, they seem to ignore repeatedly that the Donald has failed: He failed to do his homework, he failed to understand the process and now he wants you to believe the process is corrupt – one that he could have affected had he better business practices and learned the rules.
In other words, Mr. Trump, if you aren’t nominated in Cleveland, it will be because you practiced bad business.