U.S. Senate candidate and former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina celebrates her primary win with her husband Frank Fiorina at her side at the California Republican Party event on California Primary Election night on June 8, 2010 in Anaheim, California. Fiorina hopes to unseat Democratic incumbent Barbara Boxer who is in a virtual tie with Republican challenger Tom Campbell, according to a recent poll.
Carly Fiorina had one of the more entertaining political campaigns in recent memory, highlighted by the now famous/infamous "Demon Sheep" web ad. Here are five reasons Fiorina won.
5. Chuck DeVore. Fiorina's rival on the right was a strong performer in the debates, but slow and under-funded as a candidate. DeVore's conservative credentials are strong -- but Fiorina managed to claim the conservative label, mostly by outworking him and outspending him. It's good to be lucky in one's opponents, and Fiorina was with DeVore.
4. Tom Campbell. Fiorina's moderate rival had the lead in the polls from the moment he entered the race -- until about a month ago. The race was winnable, but Campbell faded down the stretch, scheduling few events and failing to use the TV ad time he reserved. Campbell also bungled his response to questions about his previous support for a professor with Islamist views.
3. Smart stunts. The demon sheep ad was a mixed bag. But Fiorina's campaign -- and its media maven Fred Davis -- were able to cut through the considerable clutter of California politics and drive home messages. Particularly effective was a long developed attack on Barbara Boxer that involved a blimp and played at a state Republican party convention where Fiorina shined.
2. Hewlett-Packard. Fiorina had a famously rocky tenure as H-P's CEO, but she made millions there. That money came in handy when she gave it to her own campaign in recent weeks, allowing her to get commercials on the air as Campbell was retreating from TV.
1. Sarah Palin. The former Alaska governor's endorsement of Fiorina was rocket fuel for her campaign. The week that a mailer with Palin endorsing Fiorina reached the homes of Republican voters, Fiorina saw a double-digit boost in support in internal polling. (I explain how this worked more completely in this column in the Daily Beast). One caveat: Palin's endorsement could hurt her among Democrats and independents in the general election.