Lawrence Lessig Is Looking To TED Talks For His 1%

By Allen McDuffee | August 11, 2015

Harvard University professor Lawrence Lessig says he will spend the next month testing the viability of a 2016 presidential run, but noted that “obviously there’s a bunch of big hurdles to get over to make that possible.”

Those hurdles? Raising $1 million by Labor Day and finding 1 percent in national polling numbers — the threshold the Democratic National Committee has set to get on the debate stage with the party’s other candidates.

And where will he find that 1 percent? His TED Talk.

“That one percent of America has watched my Ted Talks,” Lessig said. “If we can be in the debates and frame this issue in a way that becomes compelling, then I think there’s a chance to see it take off.”

Experts find that hard to believe. An incredulous Dan Drezner, professor at the Fletcher School, tweeted that he “couldn’t have dreamed” it.



Lessig will have his supporters, no doubt, but a lack of name recognition will be difficult to overcome. Lessig is perhaps most known for launching the Mayday PAC in 2014 — the “super PAC to end super PACs.”

In the 2014 election cycle, the group spent $10 million on candidates who claimed to believe curbing the influence of big donors and lobbyists is good for American politics. They could not, however, show any positive influence after Election Day. As Byron Tau and Ken Vogel at Politico put it, “It was money down the drain.”

Perhaps determined not to make the same mistake twice, Lessig says that if he can’t raise the million dollars he needs, he’ll return the money to donors and call it a day.