Mitt Romney’s Surprisingly Unbusinesslike Campaign

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I’ve read several election postmortems that claim Mitt Romney paid a whole lot more for his TV ads than Barack Obama did. Today, Matt Lewis confirms this. His source tells him that Romney typically paid a big premium for non-preemptable ads even in early September, when ads are rarely preempted. Why?

According to our source, Team Obama simply did the “due diligence to find where the lowest unit rate was,” a tedious process which “takes manpower.” Conversely, it appears Team Romney simply didn’t want bother with the hassle. So they threw money at the problem — and walked away.

In other words, Obama ran his campaign like a business, outsourcing specialized tasks like media buys to outside firms and keeping a tight rein on costs. Conversely, Romney ran his campaign like a millionaire’s personal fiefdom, figuring that his buddies could do the job as well as anyone else. But although they were pretty deft at making excuses for their inefficiency, it turned out they couldn’t. What’s more, outside the world of TV ads, he directed a tremendous amount of campaign money to his friends:

Mitt Romney’s campaign has directed $134.2 million to political firms with business ties to his senior staff, spotlighting the tightknit nature of his second presidential bid and the staggering sums being spent in this election….Ryan Williams, a Romney spokesman, said payments to firms with connections to staff members were not only for consulting, but also were used to purchase a variety of services, including “polling, video production, political mail, get-out-the-vote phones, online advertising, website development, and budget and compliance management, among other things.”

His longtime business cronies did well out of the campaign, but Romney apparently didn’t know how to manage them very well (cf. Orca, failure of). This isn’t surprising. Romney portrays himself as a successful manager, but there’s a big difference between heading up a private equity firm and heading up an actual business. Live and learn.

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