Meg Whitman Smashes Record for Self-Financed Campaign in California

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"Meg Whitman may be successful in the business world," said Roth-Barber. "But voters are not always clear this person can run government. And there perhaps is an inherent mistrust of people who have a lot of money."

Levinthal said, "Money will buy you a lot of TV ads and handbills and pay staff salaries, but if you are unable to connect with an electorate, then you may find yourself on the wrong end of the results."

And that may be even more true, he said, in a year when voters say the economy is the number one, two, and three issue on their minds. They may have trouble identifying with someone who can spend so much of their own money on a political campaign.

"If you're working two jobs for half the money you used to make because you are unemployed or just trying to put food on the table, and you see a guy with millions of dollars to extinguish on a political race, you may not feel as connected with that person as someone with a very populist message, running with a background similar to yours," Levinthal said.

Marilyn Young contributed to this story

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