Donald Trump has been the GOP front-runner for months and by his standards, it's barely cost him a dime. He has only spent around $2 million from June to September, reports MSNBC, which reports that rivals like Ted Cruz and Ben Carson spent more than $5 million just through July. The network notes that in 1987's The Art of the Deal, Trump wrote that being written about in the news is a lot more effective than paid advertising, and he seems to be applying the same principle to his campaign with remarkable success. "I've gotten so much free advertising, it’s like nothing I'd have expected,” he told the New York Times last month. "When you look at cable television, a lot of the programs are 100% Trump, so why would you need more Trump during the commercial breaks?"
Trump said early on that he's willing to spend $1 billion, though he told the Times last month that $100 million was more realistic. At the current rate of spending, Trump could afford to keep his campaign going for many years, but analysts tell MSNBC that he's going to have to start digging a lot deeper in the months ahead, when wealthy super PACs are certain to hit him with attack ads. Still, the fact that he has made it so far while spending so little shows his "brilliance" at gaming today's political system, writes Chris Cillizza at the Washington Post. Trump has "recognized that as a celebrity with a massive following on Instagram and Twitter, he can dominate the political conversation without spending any real money in the process," he writes. (Bernie Sanders, meanwhile, has been raking it in.)