Mark Penn has taken no shortage of blame for the downfall of Hillary Clinton’s presidential aspirations, but the former campaign chief has a few ideas of his own about what could have been. Penn writes in the New York Times that Team Clinton should have taken on Barack Obama from the beginning and should have courted young voters and women more aggressively, but money “may just have had a lot more to do with who won than anyone imagines.”
Are there a lot of other things the campaign could have done differently? Of course. We should have taken on Mr. Obama more directly and much earlier, and we needed a different kind of operation to win caucuses and to retain the support of superdelegates. From more aggressively courting young people earlier to mobilizing the full power of women, there are things that could have been done differently.
While everyone loves to talk about the message, campaigns are equally about money and organization. Having raised more than $100 million in 2007, the Clinton campaign found itself without adequate money at the beginning of 2008, and without organizations in a lot of states as a result. Given her successes in high-turnout primary elections and defeats in low-turnout caucuses, that simple fact may just have had a lot more to do with who won than anyone imagines.
And sometimes your opponent just runs a good campaign.