I now believe there is a 50 percent probability that GOP nominee Donald TrumpDonald TrumpOhio Republican who voted to impeach Trump says he won't seek reelection Youngkin breaks with Trump on whether Democrats will cheat in the Virginia governor's race Trump endorses challenger in Michigan AG race MORE wants to lose to Democratic nominee Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonAttorney indicted on charge of lying to FBI as part of Durham investigation Durham seeking indictment of lawyer with ties to Democrats: reports Paul Ryan researched narcissistic personality disorder after Trump win: book MORE in the race for president, and then seek to create an alt-right media conglomerate including players ranging from Breitbart to former Fox News boss Roger Ailes.
I raised this possibility in my Aug. 12 piece for The Hill, "Is Trump deliberately throwing the election to Clinton?" Let's consider why events since mid-August add support to this possibility.
First, Trump has allowed Clinton to dominate him in television advertising. His ad buys have been very limited, even though he began August behind Clinton in ad spending by an historically unprecedented margin for presidential nominees. Why hasn't Trump done much more to compete with Clinton on the airwaves?
One could have argued many months ago that Trump's free saturation television exposure given to him by television execs made for up the lack of paid campaign advertising. But free media coverage has turned harshly against Trump, to the degree that Trump responded to the daily deluge of negative coverage by declaring a virtual war against the media, which the media are winning because the facts routinely contradict Trump's claims and promises.
Second, since Aug. 12, Trump has opened a paltry number of campaign offices in battleground states, continuing his huge disadvantage in the political ground game compared to the grassroots juggernaut assembled by Team Clinton. Why hasn't Trump made any effort to build a ground game, at the same time he has not made any effort to effectively compete with significant paid television advertising?
At this moment, with Labor Day approaching, Trump is at a huge disadvantage in both the ground game and the battle over the airwaves and has made no effort to effectively compete in these two crucial aspects of successful presidential campaigning. Is this the behavior of a candidate playing to win?
Third, despite his claims to vast personal wealth, why hasn't Trump written his campaign a huge check to fulfill his longtime promise to self-finance his campaign? Either Trump does not really possess even remotely the wealth he claims, or he refuses to keep his campaign promise to self-finance his campaign because he really does not want to win.
Fourth, the Trump has handled the immigration issue in a way designed to hyper-galvanize his limited base — a base that would be the foundation for the television venture he is rumored to be gunning for — in a way that alienates Hispanic voters for a generation and repels independent voters and even many Republicans.
Several days ago, Democrats were privately worried that Trump would use his visit to Mexico and his major immigration speech in Arizona to "soften" his position and widen his circle of supporters, which is what a candidate who wants to win would have done. This is exactly what most of his surrogates were hinting in the days before his major immigration speech.
Instead, Trump humiliated many of his surrogates by doing the exact opposite. He began his big day by sounding more elevated in his joint appearance with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, continued his day when the humiliated Mexican president essentially called Trump a liar by stating that he did in fact tell Trump that Mexico would never pay for the wall, and ended his day with a red-meat speech so extreme (a word Trump himself used when describing his proposed vetting process) that even some of his few prominent Hispanic supporters headed for the exits.
A recent story in The Washington Post, "Poll finds rejection of many of Trump's views on immigration," discussed a new Pew Research Center poll, which tracks similar results from a recent Fox News poll. While Trump's hardline immigration policies reap great support from the minority of voters who support him and would form the foundation for a future Trump rightist media venture, they are anathema to far more voters and are seen by huge numbers of Hispanic voters as a declaration of political war against them.
From the time I first raised the possibility on Aug. 12 that Trump could be throwing the election to Clinton, he has acted in a manner that is consistent with a candidate who wants to lose the presidential campaign and segue to a new alt-right media venture after the election.
Would a billionaire candidate who wants to win the presidency deliberately fail to substantially increase television ad buys, fail to open a flood of campaign offices to build an effective ground game, refuse to self-finance his campaign as he promised, and escalate his extremism on immigration in a way that further destroys his ability to widen his support and could alienate Hispanic voters from Republicans for a generation?
The Republican nominee is acting in ways that make it far more likely that Hillary Clinton is elected president, while positioning himself to be the Citizen Kane of the alt-right media before the sun sets Clinton's first day in office.
Budowsky was an aide to former Sen. Lloyd Bentsen (D-Texas) and former Chief Deputy Majority Whip Bill Alexander (D-Ark.). He holds an LL.M. degree in international financial law from the London School of Economics. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The views expressed by contributors are their own and not the views of The Hill.