There are a few dozen men and women considering running for the Republican nomination for President in 2012. There is also a handful of serious people contemplating running as independents against President Obama, who is unlikely to see any serious Democratic opposition next year.
There are three main elements to a serious presidential campaign: money, message and campaign mechanics.
The money is the tallest hurdle but not necessarily the most difficult to overcome. The message is the easiest, especially for a genuine candidate. The campaign mechanics can be the trickiest.
Campaign mechanics, as I define them, include the mundane but essential details of a successful campaign. They start out with ballot access -- the need to actually qualify the candidate for the ballot in each state. Some states (e.g., New York) have arduous petition drives which can occur months in advance of the primary, requiring tremendous foresight, discipline and fortitude by campaign staffers, paid workers and volunteers. A Johnny-come-lately who only decides to run a month before New Hampshire's primary may miss the deadlines in several states, be unable to get any delegates in those states and consequently have little real chance of winning at all.
Campaign mechanics also include legal compliance such as campaign finance reporting. Regular business management also falls into this category. A campaign is no different from any other business.
A well-disciplined campaign that "has its act together" well in advance of the campaign season will stand a good chance of overcoming opposition from poorly funded, poorly conceived and often totally-disorganized campaign competitors. Proper management can make the difference between being able to "hang in" during tough times, and having to drop out of the race at the first sign of serious adversity.
Eric Dixon is a New York lawyer who has served as an election lawyer on ballot access and campaign finance issues for two dozen candidates (including presidential candidates Steve Forbes and H. Ross Perot), committees and political organizations.
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