This pretense is more reassuring to the candidates paying for the advice than what is often the reality: voters are fickle, the factors that motivate them are ephemeral, political operatives are often winging it, and even the shrewdest advice often can’t compensate for a weak candidate running in a harsh environment.Damn right. I can tell you this from being a consultant, volunteer, activist, and candidate. Voters are extremely fickle. They are fickle in primaries, since they often care more about voting for the winner than what the candidates stand for. If they are indie voters in finals, they can also be all over the map too. It doesn't matter where they live or what is going on. You can't predict what they will do.
It also doesn't help that the media is obsessed with horse race nonsense and personalities instead of the issues that voters supposedly care about. It comes back to my arguments about directing the news. There are good political reporters out there. But, they often get caught up in the "gotcha" moment instead of doing the thorough writing and analysis about issues. Please reporters, leave the gotcha moments for bloggers. Do what you're supposed to do.
In many ways, it's better for candidates not to have these consultants at all. If you don't know what you stand for as a candidate, there is a problem. Simply put, you shouldn't be a candidate. Do campaigns need employees? Yeah, ideally. A candidate can always use a scheduler and a media person. Not everyone can handle the technical stuff, like putting together the campaign Web site. Nowadays, you even need someone to Twitter for you! But, figuring out what to say? Knowing what to think? Polling months before an election and have that be your strategy? Studying voters on who you should and shouldn't put in your campaign advertisements? No, it's not needed. Go out, be yourself, talk to people, learn what they want, tell them your ideas, and live with the consequences. It really is that simple.