Lesson on being UNremarkable

March 16, 2008

In a normal year, the candidate with the most money, the one who raises the most money, is usually the winner, or at least is a front runner.

This year isn’t normal.  At least not for the Republicans.  In mid-summer 2007, John McCain ran out of money, and almost had to quit.  Mike Huckabee, the former Governor of Arkansas, lasted until March 2008 spending only $12M total! Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney matched the $60M he raised with $40M of his own money, and quit in December.

Ron Paul, the last challenger to John McCain to leave  the race, raised almost $33M.  But  he only managed 14 delegates.  What happened?

It wasn’t dedication of his supporters.  Only Huckabee’s grass roots army came close to the sheer fanaticism of Ron Paul’s supporters.  Banners on overpasses.  Disrupting other candidates’ press events.   One-liners on blogs.

According to David Larisonhe wasted his time. In a race he should have had to himself, he routinely scored at the bottom. 

His issues were very much the same as when he ran previously as a Libertarian. Lock down the border.  Bring the troops home from Iraq – and all foreign entanglements.  Restore the gold standard.  Limited government.

But in the end, there was only one issue.  Hatred for Bush and Bush’s policies.  It didn’t even seem to matter if Paul won. “He, and his voters, wanted to make a huge, un-ignorable statement, grab delegates, shift the party their way so that the inevitable terrible nominee was at least looking over his shoulder at them.”

Ron Paul spent  2/3 of his campaign cash with no results.  He should have been able to lead the thought war.  He could have used that last $6M to blanket the airwaves with issue ads.  Instead, he kind of faded away.

Larison says “The Paul campaign seemed to fall under its own spell: its candidate was so obviously honest, and had been talking about this stuff for so long, that surely the voters would realize this and spot him in a sea of phonies. But that isn’t how campaigns work.”