Those of us in the lobbying business (now politely translating into ’public affairs’) may be about to witness a tectonic shift in political values. Before our very eyes, George W. Bush slides precipitously in political polls matched against candidates in both parties. As a result, the accepted standard of fundraising as the measure of popularity may be eroding.
Those of us in the lobbying business (now politely translating into
’public affairs’) may be about to witness a tectonic shift in political
values. Before our very eyes, George W. Bush slides precipitously in
political polls matched against candidates in both parties. As a result,
the accepted standard of fundraising as the measure of popularity may be
For all of this year, the nomination and election of Bush has been
regularly conceded as virtually inevitable with each successive report
of campaign contributions.
As Republicans, anxious for a ’winner,’ continue to pour money into the
Bush campaign, and as despairing GOP rivals continue to drop out of the
race (using the Bush money advantage as an excuse to avoid conceding
their own unpopularity), pundits continue to concede the race to Bush
and to emphasize the crucial role of campaign funding.
Lamar Alexander, Dan Quayle and Elizabeth Dole all claimed, ’It’s the
money,’ when they dropped out. Who was the political correspondent brave
enough to say, ’No, you just ran a terrible campaign - hardly anyone
wanted you,’ when it was so much easier to cite George W’s sixty (or
seventy or eighty) million dollars?
Alas, no one remembered John Connally, the last Texas governor to amass
a huge war chest only to discover - when the voting began - that no one
wanted him either. His campaign fund of dollars 6 million, huge by 1980
standards, yielded one delegate as the primaries rolled on, and earned
him only the derisive title of the ’Six Million Dollar Man’ (based on
that popular TV show).
Now the polls have yielded a sharp drop for Bush, not only against
either of the two contending Democrats but also when matched with his
major GOP opponent, John McCain.
What this tells Washington PR types who often go to the Hill (and to
fundraisers) to cultivate Administration and agency officials, and who
thus care mightily about which party will control the next House and
Senate and who will appoint the judges, is once again to ignore the
Money alone, we are learning again, is not power. Successful campaigns
require an ability to convince, persuade and even inspire; politics
still rewards the candidates with the best ideas (or for that matter,
any ideas at all), the most popular positions on issues of real concern
to the voters, and, above all, a sense of leadership.
Watch the Bush people start to downplay the contribution totals and the
endorsements and begin to talk about issues and management, and be
prepared to embarrass the pundits if the nominees turn out to be Bradley