There has been a lot of debate and noise about the 2008 US election. Politics, ethics and opinions aside, let’s think about this from a simple facts-and-numbers perspective. Ignore all the controversy of popular vote vs electoral college, etc etc. Let’s consider the contest in the way it’s defined right now.
You have finite resources, and you need to win the election. It costs a fixed amount of effort to convince each person. What’s the most optimal way to win an election?
So you run an optimized campaign. You strategize and make a campaign that gives you a much better “bang for buck”. In a perfect world, you should spend enough time to convince as little over 50% of each constituency and then move on, since you’ve won there and you should spend your resources elsewhere. This should be the primary objective function to measure a campaign’s efficacy.
Using numbers from the Wikipedia :
Obama : 66,495,308 votes, 365 electoral votes. 365/66 = 5.5
McCain : 58,123,419 votes, 162 electoral votes. 162/58= 2.79
Hence, we can see that Obama’s campaign was TWICE more efficient than McCain’s.
If the ability to lead a campaign is any reflection of leadership of the country, this does seem like a decisive victory in leadership skills.
Now, in case someone argues that Obama had more money, let’s look at spending reports from Opensecrets.org:
Obama : 640M$ = 1.75M$ per electoral vote
McCain : 370M$ = 2.28M$ per electoral vote
Again, Obama was 1.3 times more efficient with his donation money.
So overall, 2x efficiency in campaign effort, and 1.3x efficiency in use of money. What I see is a great contest in management, with a clear winner.