Big money Republican donors shun Trump

More "trouble" for the presumptive presidential candidate.

A New York Times survey of 50 big donors to the Republican Party finds a dozen would not donate or raise money for Donald Trump.

One of them, hedge fund manager William Oberndorf says, “If it is Trump vs Clinton I will be voting for Hillary" (as well he might. Along with banks, insurance companies and "the rich", hedge funds are one of the groups Trump has targeted on the campaign trail. He says they "get away with murder.")

The Times' survey comes after a run of articles that estimate Trump's wealth at just a fraction of the $US10 billion he claims (much of which appears to be his own valuation of his brand). The Wall Street Journal says his cash-on-hand is actually between $US78 million and $US238 million. That's chump change by presidential race standards (last time around, Obama spent $US722 million on his re-election campaign. Pundits are picking that Hillary Clinton will spend more than $US1 billion).

His limited liquidity will probably lead Trump to renege on his promise of a self-funding campaign, free of the implicit obligations that come with any donation.

Yet his supporters seem to have a high tolerance for him zigging and zagging. And, in fact, he has already stuck a Donate button on his website, with options starting from $US10.

Assuming many big donors keep their money in their pockets, or donate less than usual, Trump could simply use the power of the internet and start to really push for online donations. It's likely his blue-collar army would respond in force — a phenomenon that has helped Democrats usually out-raise Republicans in modern times (Republican candidate Mitt Romney raised $US450 million for the last presidential campaign, putting him a good distance behind Obama).

ABC News recently said accounts that Obama's war chest was based on many small donations are overblown. In fact, only a quarter of his money came from donations below $US200.

Still, Trump is nothing if not a good salesman, and he can be expected to make hay from small donors as he pushes populist themes like trashing trade deals, raising taxes on "the rich" and raising the minimum wage.

And his Winston Peters-esque gift for one-liners, and his keen understanding that Twitter is the central nervous system of modern media, gives him buckets of coverage without spending a cent.

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