Rick Snyder unveiled his campaign strategy during the Super bowl, and it is to embrace his nerdiness and hope that it appeals to the electorate (Detroit News):
The "nerd" line was meant to be humorous and self-deprecating but also impart the message Snyder is brainy and hard-working, strategist John Weaver said in a conference call with reporters.
"The No. 1 issue in Michigan is job creation," Weaver said. "It will take a very smart guy, a very tough guy to change the way things work there.
"We won't have the nerd discussion in every one of our ads, but this will be central theme to our approach."
Does this ad make it more likely that he will get the Republican nomination? It is risky, but it probably gives him his best shot. Voters often respond well to authenticity and to candidates who are comfortable in their own skin. One potential problem is that it runs the risk of making him look full of himself (which all politicians are, but you're supposed to pretend you're not) and screams at voters that he's not a man of the people (again, most need to pretend).
This is the campaign that Steve Forbes could have run when he ran for President, but the times may have been too good in 1996 and 2000. In 2010 Michigan, a self-proclaimed nerd might have a chance if he can sell that he is the only one who understands how to solve the major problems that exist.
Snyder is putting forward to idea that he, and he alone, has the ability to transform Michigan into a 21st century economic powerhouse. The race is likely to center around the economy and he is positioning himself as the candidate best equipped to handle the issue. He is putting it all on the line, and he needs to be ready to dazzle on economic issues for the rest of the campaign.
If he didn't go with this type of campaign, it is hard to see how he would sufficiently differentiate himself in a crowded primary. If he's not a tough nerd, then he's a really rich candidate who's kind of awkward on camera. It's his best (and perhaps only) option, and it appears to be getting him some good press so far.