To understand the Trump campaign, study real-estate developer hustle

Thomas H Crown's Twitter rant about the Trump campaign compares it to the real-estate developer playbook, which is based on inveigling others into putting up all the capital for a high-risk venture that is sold on the basis of the developer's confidence and force of personality.

The hustle that Crown describes is easy to square with the Trump campaign, and Crown projects it forward to the current money/credibility crisis that Trump is facing, positing the likely outcome for both Trump and the GOP.

Now, the next step — when the investors don't immediately fall for this garbage — is something showy to prove the dude still can throw.

Maybe he puts $1m of his own money (NOTE FACE VALUE; $200M; PERSONAL GUARANTY) down to show he's not afraid to commit.

The likelihood of that million ever showing up is roughly half.

The point isn't to cover 1/12 of the shortfall. It's to convince the investors that the brave developer sees a bright light ahead.

Why else would he have invested [$1M/the first tranche of $250K] if not?

This is in itself a surprisingly effective tactic, which is to say, it sometimes works at all.

Rational humans recognize what a sunk cost is. Trump, like most developers, is betting that he's not dealing with that kind of human.

A lot of [bankers/investors/elderly/middle aged marks] will be moved both by the personal investment and sunk costs and double down.

This gives the developer room to do one of three things. (1) Structure for bankruptcy/exit. (2) Turn it around. (3) Keep screwing up.

Remember: At this point, his goal isn't seeing the project to a successful conclusion. That would be great, but it's not his goal.

It's to stay alive and keep himself viable for the next project.

If you step back and look, he's saying that if you won't give him money, he'll give himself money and you won't be part of him.

That's the real tell: This isn't about paying the note or mitigating damage. It's about him. It's always about him.

We are at that stage with Donald Trump now.

Trump is Running His Campaign Like a Real Estate Deal
[Thomas H Crown/Storify]

(via Wil Wheaton)