Stephen Covey wrote that trust has two components: character and competence. Character implies the willingness to do the right thing and competence implies the ability to do the right thing. Without both of these components there is no trust.
Among the candidates for president both aspects of trust are being heavily examined. This element of trust is contingent on the core principles of the candidate. Is big government more trustworthy and effective than the market (big business) in solving major issues like health care? What is the proper use of American power in international affairs? How do we balance legal rights and process against new threats against our security? When does the letter of the law bow to social and poltical realities as in the illegal immigration debate?
Our media propogates the myth that money is too influential in the electoral process. Money’s greatest influence is when everything else is near equal and it rarely is. Voters are still more influenced by the issues and the ability to trust the candidates. The internet and expanded media has opened the information pipeline well beyond the days of the big media.
If money could buy elections Ross Perot and Steve Forbes would have been president. Sonny Perdue was out spent by a factor of eight when he won his first term as Georgia’s first Republican governor in over 160 years, as was Jack Ellis when he first beat Buck Melton to become Macon’s first black mayor.
The critical element of a campaign’s success is (in order): 1) demographics, 2) the appeal of the candidates positions and principals, 3) trust, and 4) campaign management. The ability to raise and manage cash is important to number 4 but will not overcome the first three.