There are four requirements to get elected. These are listed in order:

  1. Core principles
  2. Demographics
  3. Administration
  4. Leadership and character

It may be disappointing that I listed leadership and character last.  While it is important it will not likely overcome deficiencies in the first three.

Core principles. Unless your basic philosophy is acceptable to the electorate you stand little chance of winning .  If you are too far left or right of center you are likely to lose.  Radical changes are most often rejected even in times of crisis, which seems like always.  It may be possible to get digital ballot stuffers to load up support in small enclaves such as the Ames straw poll, but it will not win on a wide basis.

Demographics.  This may apply mostly to local elections. Macon, Ga has a population that is well over 50% black and this group votes democrat over 92% of the time.  This reality, regardless of the reason or justification , makes running city wide as a Republican a waste of time and money.  Macon is a one party town. There are Republican precincts and they do elect their party in some council or district seats.

Administration.  You must be able to raise the money and deploy it strategically.  You have limited resources for a limited period of time and the time pressure does not tolerate strategic error; you only get one shot during a campaign.  A poor staff can sink the best candidate.  But remember that with unelectable principles and a strong demographic disadvantage outspending your opponent will not win the election.

Character.  The ability to communicate well, reputation and experience are ultimately needed, but it is not enough to overcome the first three.  I would also contend that intelligence does matter but only to a point.  We have seen lesser candidates win because they got the first three right. Yet it is the character issue that is often the most critical in a heated campaign and provides the winning edge.  I have also seen good candidates lose solely because they were not fully committed to the campaign.  If you are having business and family problems, then stay out of the race.

Before I can support a candidate these are the factors I examine.  I have turned down anything but token support for good people who could not properly address the first three issues.  Those who think money is everything are wrong. Enough is necessary to a point but beyond that extra dollars deliver few additional votes.

There are other factors.   In the age of the internet every gaffe and every compromising photo will be hammered against you.  Ms. Bachman should stick with hamburgers.

Some may view the current administration as contrary to my thesis, and there are exceptional elements to Obama’s victory.  But when he proved to move too far left the electorate turned strongly against him and the GOP recovered quickly.  I would also contend that Obama’s campaign administration ran circles around McCain.