Yes, she was outspent 10 to 1, meaning fewer staff and fewer ads and fewer everything. Yes, the Democratic party, as she made abundantly clear in her concession speech, abandoned her. And yes, she was up against a man considered the best New Jersey politician in a generation, a national figure who will one day be a presidential candidate.
But Barbara Buono, who lost in a landslide and only garnered two-thirds of the Democratic vote, didn't help her own cause in at least nine specific ways:
1) Relationship building. Democratic sources constantly and consistently gripe that Buono never developed the relationships in Trenton needed for a statewide campaign. Here's one anecdote: Sources say they didn't see her at the funeral for the mother of the top elected Democratic in the state, Steve Sweeney, earlier this year. Christie, on the other hand, attended and stayed the whole time. Her absence -- and his presence -- were noted by party elders.
2) Issues. Unlike other gubernatorial candidates, Buono never isolated one big issue to slam Christie on. Instead, she hit him on just about every issue under the Trenton sun. Not only did this make it more difficult to penetrate the electorate, but it left her with no issue-based legacy after her loss.
3) Sloppiness. She mistakenly called a county GOP chairman and asked him for a donation for $250. And her campaign never submitted her biography for printing on sample ballots mailed to every home -- the first time a gubernatorial candidate has ever made that mistake.
4) Questionable tactics. She attacked perhaps the most lionized figure in New Jersey politics, former Gov. Tom Kean, Sr., whom even Democrats respect.
5) Stage managing. At least two press conferences, including an important one on the first day of the fall campaign, were held at high-traffic intersections where even reporters had trouble hearing what she was saying.
6) Rapid response. Buono's statement criticizing racists who made fun of the newly-crowned Indian American Miss America came out on a Wednesday -- the pageant, and the racism, happened on the previous Sunday. And when MSNBC anchor Chris Matthews asked her before an appearance if he could call her "attractive," Buono was appalled -- but she didn't talk about it for weeks. If she had said something immediately, it would have gotten her national play and increased her low name ID.
7) Media management. On Sept. 9, the day after a widely-circulated report showed that New Jersey is poorer than it has been in 50 years, Buono didn’t release a statement or hold a news conference about it – even though an attentive press corps was at the Statehouse and the governor was out of town, again, in Dallas.
8) Multimedia. The campaign released an endorsement video from photogenic actress Kerry Washington, Buono's running mate's cousin. But unlike Team Christie, which cuts videos down to digestible formats for easy sharing on social media, the campaign's video of Washington ran 55 minutes. It barely broke 2,000 views, which is paltry.
9) Twitter. 7,348 followers. More than I have, yes. But for a statewide candidate who was running for nearly a year? Eh.