Committee officials outlined detailed plans in written “playbooks” distributed this year in the most competitive states about how they intended to assist Republican campaigns up and down the ballot with money and manpower. By July 1, Florida was to have 256 field organizers and Ohio another 176, for example, according to a state party chairman in possession of the strategy books who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal matters.
But Sean Spicer, the R.N.C.’s chief strategist, acknowledged this week that the committee had begun informing state parties and statewide campaigns that fulfilling such plans would now be “slower.” He said the pledges had been made with the assumption that Republicans would have “a presumptive presidential nominee by now.”
Just as revealing, the party is also taking steps to create a separate fund-raising entity dedicated to Senate races, an acknowledgment that many of the wealthiest contributors are increasingly focused on protecting Republican control of Congress rather than a presidential campaign they fear is lost.
Taken together, the party’s financial difficulties illustrate the considerable fallout Republicans are facing from a nominating contest that could last through mid-July and that features two leading candidates, Donald J. Trump and Senator Ted Cruz, who are deeply troublesome to many leading Republican donors.
“I think everything is up in the air,” said Matt Borges, the chairman of the Republican Party in Ohio, which in addition to being a perennial, and perhaps the pre-eminent, swing state is also home to a competitive Senate race this year.
That sense of uncertainty, along with ample apprehension, loomed this week over the party’s spring meeting here along the Atlantic coast. What is typically an organizational gathering and convivial reunion for Republican state chairmen and chairwomen and other committee members has been subsumed by an explosive presidential race in which the front-runner is waging open war against the party and its longstanding nomination rules.
This race was supposed to be over by now for the GOP. But Trump and Cruz have burned it all down, and Kasich has no chance of being the savior. Jeb, Marco, and the rest are all gone.
There's nobody left.
More worrisome to many veteran Republicans than Mr. Trump’s complaints about the delegate-selection process, though, is what his eventual nomination could mean for the party’s prospects across the board this fall. Mr. Trump has no high-dollar donor network and has given little indication that he is willing to tap into his fortune to give the party the hundreds of millions of dollars it will require to finance a robust campaign. In the 2012 campaign, the R.N.C. raised more than $409 million.
The party has accumulated $135 million so far this election, but what is deeply concerning to many Republican candidates, contributors and strategists is that it only had a little over $16 million on hand, along with nearly $2 million in debt, at the end of March. Mr. Spicer stressed that this was partly because the committee had already begun paying to send staff members to battleground states, well ahead of the corresponding time four years ago.
But the party’s modest cash availability underscores how much hangs in the balance with its nominee.
“The minute Trump gets the nomination, the party is going to have to raise another three or four hundred million,” said Al Hoffman, a Florida-based Republican donor. “Trump should pay for it himself.”
Nobody wants to give Trump hundreds of millions to run a race he's going to lose by 20 points. The big GOP donors threw their money away on McCain/Palin and Romney/Ryan. They're not going to do the same with The Donald.
They know Trump is going to lose. They're trying to preserve the Senate, and that's not going to work either.
The GOP is going to get wiped out in November, and the big money guys know it.