I tried playing Pat Buchanan in the 1992 race as a challenge. It was fun and very interesting!
First, I decided to place all my bets on a win in Alaska but it soon became obvious I couldn't get much traction there. I pulled back and focused every bit of money, time, and manpower on New Hampshire.
It was a rough start to the campaign. Bush beat me 79.5% to 20.5% in Alaska. Then rolled through January and won a 91-9% victory in Iowa.
But I kept pushing in New Hampshire and it was close. When the votes were counted... 50-50%... Buchanan won the state by a margin of only ELEVEN POPULAR VOTES!
While it seems like a loss in NH should have sent the Bush campaign crashing toward the ground... they largely brush it off, and few momentum changes seem to have occurred in the upcoming states.
By this point Bush had 89 delegates to the 12 for Buchanan in New Hampshire. The handwriting is clearly on the wall here, but I kept on.
Buchanan wins 14.4% in South Dakota and adds 2 more delegates. Then Super Tuesday comes along and Bush runs the table. Buchanan picks off a total of 5 delegates based on a 12% showing in Colorado. Now it's 19 for Buchanan and 431 for Bush.
I've decided to focus the limited resources that I have left at the 3-4 other states that allow for proportial delegate allocation. Maybe I can pick off a few dozen extra delegates.
Despite a burst of barnstorming and over $150,000 in advertising... the Louisana primary goes to Bush by a margin of 86.6% to 13.4%. Buchanan adds another 5 delegates, bringing the total to 24. But Bush now has 914 delegates and is poised to lock-up the nomination any day now.
Off to New York, the next contest where it's possible for us to win delegates. In the meantime, Bush blasts past the minimum number of delegates needed to win.
Buchanan is largely broke and exausted. We win 10.2% in New York, which is good enough for 15 delegates. That puts us up to 39 in total. Bush now has 1281.
Oregon, Washington, and New Mexico are the three states left where it's possible for us to win delegates. Maybe Buchanan can make it to 50.
It's the end of April and just when we don't need it, Buchanan is hit with a scandal that makes fundraising even more impossible.
I decide to focus the last of my money and assets on Washington. The Washington and Oregon primaries are the same day, but Washington is worth more delegates.
Bush wins both of those states and Buchanan falls $20,000 into debt. However, the bright spot is that we captured 22.5% in Washington and won 9 delegates there. Plus a 14% showing (3 delegates) in Oregon and Buchanan now has 51 total delegates nationally.
New Mexico votes in a week and it is the last place for Buchanan to realistically win any more delegates.
On June 2nd, Bush sweeps through California and several other states. Buchanan wins between 10% and 12% in all except for New Mexico, where a last minute ad push and barnstorming give us 19.5% and 4 more delegates.
It's now mid-June and George Bush is leading for the GOP nomination by a margin of 2164 to 55 delegates. With no other options, Buchanan considers pulling out.
Then at the last second, offers his endorsement to independent candidate Ross Perot...