The Clinton campaign has been heavily invested in digital advertising and data analytics for almost the entire lifetime of the campaign, whereas Trump has just started.
The Trump campaign has slowly dipped its toes in the online digital arena, focusing mostly on email fundraising initiatives. Trump has used basic retargeting techniques, paying Texas-based digital firm Giles-Parscale a couple million dollars in the past few months to run digital campaigns.
Last month, the Trump campaign and joint fundraising vehicles with the GOP raised $82 million. The total raised so far this cycle overall for Trump is $99 million -- in the 12 months prior to July 2016 Trump raised just $17 million, according to OpenSecrets.org.
Conversely, the Hillary Clinton campaign and outside groups have raised $374.5 million, with $90 million coming in July.
Clinton’s tops Trump in overall fundraising; the numbers are only exceeded by the advantage the former Secretary of State has in the digital realm.
Clinton’s overwhelming lead when it comes to campaign tech may be her ace in the hole. As a former Obama aide put it to The Hill, the Clinton data operation “will be the reason Clinton wins in November. There’s nothing like it out there.”
Trump’s spending on social media over the past few months feels like a regional chain store trying to get a few more customers in the door. According to the Federal Election Committee, Trump spent $29,000 on Facebook ads in June.
But then there is Twitter.
Trump’s Twitter addiction points to a completely new way of politicians interacting with voters and the world. As Colin Delany of epolitics.com puts it: “In taking such a personal approach to social media, Trump is fundamentally a different kind of Internet-age candidate than a Barack Obama or a Bernie Sanders.”
People hang on his every tweet, a sensation largely fueled by the media: “[Trump] plays with the news media as perhaps only a celebrity could.”
Trump undoubtedly wants to win, bar some wild conspiracy-style story, and his team should be planning for get out the vote initiatives in all 50 states. Digital will play a central role in the closing stages of a national campaign. A strong email game won’t be enough.
“Campaigns need to reach out to individual supporters who can organize in their communities to get voters to the polls. It takes sophisticated targeting and data analytics to make sure you can reach the right people,” said Ray Kingman, CEO of marketing data and analytics firm Semcasting.
Trump’s digital apparatus is not where it needs to be to drive voters to the polls in November. Angry tweets aren't enough to secure victory.