Dem 51
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GOP 49
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Doug Who? Is In

Gov. Doug Burgum (R-SD) also announced yesterday that he thinks he would be a fine president. Lots of governors and all senators think this, but what separates Burgum from the pack is about a billion dollars. If he is serious, he could buy up all the commercial slots in Iowa and New Hampshire from now until their nominating events, thus depriving everyone else of any paid air time.

What makes him think that carpet bombing his opponents into oblivion might work? Well, that's how he got the Republican nomination for governor. He bought it. Not every billionaire can buy a nomination. Tom Steyer and Michael Bloomberg can attest to that. But sometimes it does work. FiveThirtyEight has a nice table of candidates who had $50 million (in 2023 dollars) at this point and how they did in terms of actual delegates acquired:

Candidate Party Year Receipts (millions) Self-funded (millions) Rank
Tom Steyer Dem 2020 $244 $240 Tie-8th
Michael Bloomberg Dem 2020 $238 $238 4th
Hillary Clinton Dem 2008 $173 $0 2nd
Barack Obama Dem 2008 $151 $0 1st
Hillary Clinton Dem 2016 $147 $0.5 1st
Mitt Romney GOP 2008 $131 $0.1 3rd
Steve Forbes GOP 2000 $129 $120 4th
Bernie Sanders Dem 2020 $129 $0 2nd
George W. Bush GOP 2000 $125.0 $0 1st
Elizabeth Warren Dem 2020 $97 $0 3rd
Bernie Sanders Dem 2016 $96 $0 2nd
Rudy Giuliani GOP 2008 $90 $0 Tie-8th
Mitt Romney GOP 2012 $77 $0 1st
Joe Biden Dem 2020 $72 $0 1st
Ben Carson GOP 2016 $69 $0 5th
Howard Dean Dem 2004 $68 $0 3rd
John Edwards Dem 2008 $64 $0 3rd
John McCain GOP 2008 $61 $0 1st
Ted Cruz GOP 2016 $60 $0 2nd
Al Gore Dem 2000 $52 $0 1st
Marco Rubio GOP 2016 $50 $0 3rd
Bill Bradley Dem 2000 $50 $0 2nd

The last column in the table above shows where the candidate ended up in terms of number of convention delegates racked up. Seven of the big spenders won the nomination, but was that due to the money? Hillary Clinton was a senator and former first lady and everyone knew who she was. George W. Bush was governor of Texas and son of a president. Everyone knew who he was, too. Joe Biden was a six-term senator and former vice president. He didn't have to introduce himself to anyone. Al Gore was the sitting vice president. Everyone knew him, too.

But Barack Obama, Mitt Romney, and John McCain were not household names when they started their campaigns. The money definitely helped. Still, Obama and McCain were sitting senators and Romney was a former governor and son of a former governor and presidential candidate. So even these were fairly high profile, certainly higher than Burgum. Nevertheless, if Burgum decides that at 66 he really doesn't need a billion dollars to fund his retirement and decides to dump, say, $100 million into Iowa and another $100 million into New Hampshire AND decides to campaign in the two states in person full time and let Lt. Gov. Tammy Miller (R-ND) run North Dakota, he might make the top three in each state. (V)

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