April 4, 2007
In the race for the future occupancy of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue (it's one house at least whose market price is up), the media is atwitter about the amount of campaign cash the candidates have raked in to date. Several pundits have predicted that this will be "the most expensive campaign in history." Yet few analysts seem to understand that money is not the ultimate measure of success. If it were, then Ross Perot and Steve Forbes would be counted among the former Commanders-in-Chief.
While these hopefuls seem adept at raising dollars, they have yet to raise the interest of voters to the point of congealing around their candidacy. Wayne Berman, a Washington lobbyist, argues in The Washington Post that large fundraising "is hugely important if you have to prove you are a credible candidate." While money is no doubt extremely important, without a message you're nothing more than an ATM for political consultants. Proving that you are a credible candidate with a sound vision for America should come first and fundraising will naturally follow. As pollster Kellyanne Conway suggests, "Excitement begets money."
As it stands, values voters have yet to get excited. Obviously, the candidates have several months to develop their platforms, but we await the second quarter results in which the frontrunners are defined not by cash--but by conviction.