To win a presidential nomination requires, first, that a candidate capture a majority of national convention delegates, chosen in the fifty states and a handful of territories. This monumental task, involving fifty separate contests, understandably places a high premium on the political skills and organizational ability of the major contenders seeking the highest office in the land Above all, winning a presidential nomination requires a huge supply of tangible and intangible resources--money, staff, a respectable standing in the opinion polls, strong media appeal, and a proven track record in the public sector or business. The interaction of candidate resources, the crucial role of the mass media, and the intensely competitive nature of the presidential nominating race creates a campaign dynamic unmatched elsewhere in the political arena.
All presidential candidates must by the nature of the nominating race manipulate their expendable resources to maximize chances of winning the nomination. Moreover, recent front-loading of the presidential primary campaign schedule has further reduced the nominating strategy options of contenders in the out-of-office party. Especially since 1996, the "window of opportunity" has been, in effect, narrowed into a six-week period between mid-February, when the Iowa caucuses are held, and the California primary at the end of March. Within this shortened time frame, thirty-five presidential primaries and caucuses are held. As a result, the mass media are under even more intense pressure to concentrate on the "horse race"