In every political campaign, whether for local library trustee or for president, only one person's ego and career are ever truly on the line, exposed and vulnerable.

That one person, the candidate, must be able to raise both the issues and the funds necessary for the campaign. The candidate must endure indifference with enthusiasm and insults with confidence, while providing the campaign with its idological leadership and somehow managing to give the basic speech a couple of hundred times in the course of the campaign.

Very few people who have spent any time around a poltical headquarters would quarrel that the candidate's job is the toughest. But the toughest part of the candidate's job -- the part that most candidates fail -- is to delegate authority for running the campaign to someone else.

Candidates, especially congressional candidates, resist surrendering any authority to a campaign manager. But that is never publicly conceded by the candidate, who is usually busy persuading others that the office manager is actually doubling as the campaign manager. The office manager in question is invariably someone who is too timid to turn on the Xerox in the absence of the candidate.

Some congressional candidates, and even some statewide candidates in small states like South Dakota and Maine, have managed to win without a real manager. After all, the argument goes, the candidate is usually only a few miles away and almost always reachable by phone to help resolve the really important decisions -- such as the color of the campaign bumper sticker. r

That doesn't work in a national campaign or even in a big-state campaign. The candidate has to campaign and the manager has to manage. The manager is dealing in the expenditure of some very finite resources such as time and money. No candidate can decide rationally whether the October radio-time buy should be heavier in Dallas than in Detroit.

Ronald Reagan enjoys a large and generally unnoticed advantage over both his principal opponents, particularly over John Anderson. Reagan never ran for Congress or the state senate. His first race was for governor of California, and he won by almost a million votes. Reagan learned early that he could probably not read, let alone write, every press release, speech and position paper issued by the campaign under his name. He was forced to delegate.

For John Anderson, who has never won an election in any jurisdiction larger than, or outside of, the 16th district of Illinois, this national campaign will be a difficult adjustment. Gone is the intimacy of the congressional office. New people, strangers, must be trusted and relied upon. Authority must be delegated to the people in 50 states simultaneously. It is a very large adjustment for anyone to make in a short time. But if John Anderson cannot make the adjustment, he can save the rest of us from wasting time worrying what kind of president he might be.

Unasked and unanswered questions:

--Who does Anita Bryant's hair when she is traveling in the Bay area of California?

-- After watching the problems of the Kennedy presidential campaign, the question demanding an answer: Which senator has the second best staff on Capitol Hill?

-- There are so many of these political action committtees for raising political money for everybody from the running board lobby to the dandruff folks that you begin to wonder if fundraisers will soon be known as PAC-pockets.

-- The wraparound skirt has hurt the ratification of the ERA just as platform shoes did a couple of years ago. The wraparound, which even in the gentlest zephyrs requires a woman to clutch it tightly behind her, takes a little dignity away from the cause.

-- If men needed an ERA of their own, I guess that double-breasted tuxedoes tailor-made from the pelts of 50 polyesters would probably not be much help toward ratification either.