Mr. Trump is not the only contender to make the calculation that running for president is win-win, burnishing “brand” value even for the losers. Ben Carson — yes, still in the race — seems more interested in selling books than in attaining higher office. Marco Rubio has already enjoyed years of patronage from a billionaire auto dealer in Florida.
The examples of Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum, Sarah Palin and Mike Huckabee underscore the point that a no-hope presidential run has more upside than downside. A career as a right-wing celebrity — a stint on Fox News, speaking fees, book advances — is more profitable than one in the Senate. These incentives have helped to shift the Republican Party from a party of opportunity to a party of opportunists.