Finally, for all his Washington fame, Mitch Daniels is just not very well known outside Indiana. A recent Gallup poll showed just one-third of Republicans nationally having any idea who he was. The truck stops of Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina have not been graced by his Harley, and if he decides to run, he’ll be spotting most of the field a pretty big head start. Unlike Barbour, he does not have a long-established national network of fundraising beneficiaries and donors; perhaps Haley will loan him his own, but it’s not the same thing. No pre-mobilized voter faction will naturally gravitate to him. And Daniels’ understated personal style—George Will once revealingly called it “the charisma of competence”—is an acquired taste that takes some getting used to. At a time when Republican caucus and primary participants seem inclined to favor candidates who get them lathered up, Hoosier modesty presented by a short, balding man in his early sixties may not go over that well.
Daniels is probably pondering these obstacles as he makes his decision. But in the meantime, he will continue to be serenaded by his fans in elite Republican circles with ever-increasing and passionate desire. He’d do well to remember that while they have money and influence, in the end they only get one vote each.