As this nbcnews.com article makes clear, the odds are that Trump has never really intended to be President. Why would a brand boy risk same by taking on an office that is almost guaranteed to leave that brand tarnished beyond all measure. And it only takes a moment to see why.
Even a candidate who starts out as very popular is likely to accomplish very little. The acrimonious partisan split now leaves us with a situation where neither side feels much incentive to help the other side's candidate be successful after all (with the nation's interests be damned). If you then have a candidate enter the office as unpopular as Trump is to even his own, supposed, party, how much is he going to accomplish legislatively? How much of all of the blather he's been feeding his chump brigades is actually going to happen?
Nothing he does, certainly is going to endear him to people who already dislike him, but if he disappoints that relatively big (in a marketing sense) group he now has at his beck and call, what then? Does that make for "what comes after" anything lucrative at all?
You've got to wonder if he's trying to walk a very careful line between being just legitimate enough to still be considered a viable candidate, but not too legitimate to actually win. If he isn't then he's a bigger ego maniac than any of us have considered so far; trying to win something simply to satisfy a sense of personal gratification at the expense of what has always allowed him to earn what millions he has so far.
What you really have to ask yourself is this: Even if his ego is as big, or bigger, than his desire to earn more money (and the prestige that goes with that), how could he resist the chance to have a failed campaign launch him into a bigger media career? The whole thing is so self supporting after all. He has the automatic out of claiming he didn't lose from any fault of his own; what with all the haters, and everything rigged against him, as he is so fond of suggesting. And not having to actually deliver any of the B.S. he promised will guarantee him he market he needs to launch a subscription web channel that will likely be a gold mine for both his ego and his fiscal bottom line.
So, just stay tuned has he continues to sort of follow along on the "teleprompter" standard of a normal campaign, and the careful sprinkling of the usual bombast that will keep his base happily engaged. The former to keep it looking like an actual campaign, and the latter will ensure enough outrage to keep him from actually winning.
The only real wild card here is the Clinton Campaign. Will she self destruct enough to offset Trump's calculated balancing act? And can you imagine Trump's horror at trying to figure out just how much more bombast he has to add to counteract it?
If Trump loses, his consolation prize may be a whole new right wing media juggernaut.