Palin's Political Future

>> Saturday, October 11, 2008

I am going to go out on a long and thin limb and say that John McCain is not going to win the presidency and that sarah palin will not become his vice president. So where would that leave her especially in light of the recent troopergate report? Conservatives, well some of them anyway, seem to think she has the chops to make a run in 2012. These people see her as the ultimate GOP candidate who cannot fail in her quest for the presidency do to her small town, ultimate americaness...or something. Others like kos see a future where Gov. Palin is having a tough reelection campaign for the Governorship of Alaska before she ever gets a shot at the top job. I have to go with the later.

The arguments for a palin 2012 run are generally based on the palin effect at the height of the convention bounce. If you have heard Pat Buchannon speak about Palin you can understand this line of thought. Palin did connect with everyone and everyone loves her. She turned it around for mccain but the economy went south and that turned the poll numbers. Without that unforeseeable economic news Palin would be celebrated as Hugh Hewitt intended

"The idea was to tell the story behind the effect that Sarah Palin has had on this election and how it is and why it is that she has basically turned the election around for McCain and why it is that she is resonating with so many people in the country," he said. "The intent was to finish the book by a week after the election, and to have it out before the inauguration."

Was that the plan regardless of who won?

"The book obviously presumed [a McCain-Palin victory]," Mr. Yates said, "but the theory was that her impact on this election will have a lasting effect regardless -- that she's not gonna go anywhere, that she's just gonna be a figure in G.O.P. politics going forward."

the topic of a palin in 2012 was addressed by Chris Cillizza in the Wapo shortly after her debate performance and he provides an excellent rundown of the conventional wisdom on this topic.

Palin's performance last night -- particularly her willingness to stand by conservative principles on things such as gay marriage and do it with a smile (and even a wink) -- further endeared her to not only conservative opinion makers but the rank and file GOPers who will play an outsized role in picking the next nominee of the party in 2012 if McCain comes up short in 32 days time.


What Palin did last night is bring her own national prospects back from the brink of disaster with a performance that -- while occasionally exposing her decided lack of knowledge on certain issues -- managed to keep her star ascendant for a party that may well be looking for a new face to lead it on Nov. 5.

Palin is clearly likable, charismatic and telegenic. In an insta-poll conducted by CNN, more than eight in ten people who watched the debate said she did better than they had expected while just seven percent said she had done worse. Asked which candidate was more likable, 54 percent chose Palin while 36 percent opted for Biden.

The CNN poll also showed the obvious weaknesses that Palin must address between now and 2012 -- or whenever the next time the Republican presidential nomination is open. Less than half (46 percent) of the sample said they thought Palin was qualified to be president while 53 percent said she want not. (Interestingly, those numbers were largely unchanged from a pre-debate poll in which 42 percent said she was qualified to be president and 54 percent said she was not.)

And so, judging from the polls, Palin's image to the average American is as a likable Republican who probably needs a bit more seasoning. Sub out "Republican" for "Democrat" in that last sentence and you have the general sentiment about former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards following his 2004 run for president and subsequent vice presidential bid alongside Sen. John Kerry (Mass.).

Clearly this is an incredibly shallow treatment of the situation. Cillizza cites the 80%+ number who felt she did better than expected but that should not have been hard given all she had to do was avoid becoming a drooling post-lobotomy patient wandering around the stage. I mean her expectations were so low 3rd graders would exceed them. Palin basically received an A for effort and a thanks for participating trophy.

The poll numbers indicate that people felt she was not that bad but still unqualified. The crux of the cillizza argument is that after losing palin can go off and learn a couple of national issues to come back next time and try again. She can come back and be a super serious candidate with lots of gravitas overcoming the "perception" that she is unqualified and unable to lead. However, we need to take a closer look at this argument that she is still connecting with the public and that everyone likes her.

If we take a look at the dkos daily tracker her current favorable unfavorable levels are at -20. Looking at the internals of the poll only 36% have a favorable opinion of her while 56% do not. That would take some serious rehab before she is legitimate contender on a national stage. Her numbers are held up by the die hard gop support for her otherwise she would be at bush levels. John Edwards was never that unpopular. Regardless of what people may have thought at an earlier point in time palin is not well liked. In fact i would go so far as to assert that a good portion of the country reviles her.

The advocates for the 2012 palin run are also ignoring the fact that palin has become a national joke in many ways. Everyone in the country can tell she has little to no clue what is going on. They know she refuses to do press conferences and that the only interview she can do is with sean hannity or the afore mentioned hugh hewitt. This of course plays right into the victimhood ideology she likes to use but that only work with her base and not the rest of the country. she will have a diehard base of support but not be able to reach beyond that.

Palin will not be able to escape the legacy of the mccain campaign. her role has been as the attack dog. she is the person most identified with the spreading of the ayers attack and with inciting the rapid gopers to a potentially dangerous level. Her image is that of a sarcastic, small minded person. There are more than enough quotes from this election cycle to prove it.

Palin will also be unable to shake the troopergate report. a side effect of waging a war against the media is that when you want to have a particular thing spun in your direction they become less inclined to do so. McCain gets away with this because he spent years cultivating the press and convincing them he was a great guy who deserved respect. Palin simply went straight to the hate. She has no reserve of good will among the media personalities. So instead of the troopergate report being labeled as partisan it gets the bipartisan label it deserves. It is known as the "partisan troopergate report". Their spin is undercut from the get go. it is now public record that palin "violated the public trust" and abused her power.

The palin 2012 idea also relies on palin doing something she has heretofore been unwilling to do, be professional. Palin has yet to demonstrate an ability to inspire confidence in her capacity to learn what is required of her. By this i mean that everything we know about her has shown she is more interested in the perks and attention than in the actual job of governing. She just does not appear dedicated enough. In a post Bush world i think it will be much tougher to get by without a demonstrable depth of policy on something. Cillizza seems to think palin can go away and learn this but i dont see any evidence of her willingness or ability to do so. Remember that she has to overcome the already established perception she is a ditz.

Most of these arguments are why a potential 2012 run would be a failure. However that does not eliminate the possibility of an attempt. The conservative movement still loves her and that more than anything else makes her a future player. We saw how effective huckabee could be with just the religious base. He effectively drew mccain right on many issues and created the meta narrative that mccain has base problems that eventually forced him into the palin pick. Conservatism can never fail you can only fail conservatism. So look for a doubling down on exactly what is driving people away from the party, sarah palin.


O-le,O-le, O-le, O-le! O-le, O-le!

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