Hey Soul Sister
“What’s the difference between a hockey mom and a pitbull? Lipstick!” And with that shot over the bow at the Republican National Convention, Sarah Palin announced her arrival on to the national political stage. From her position as a relatively unknown Governor of Alaska, Palin launched one of the most exciting Vice Presidential candidacies in U.S. history.
From the completion of that speech, even before McCain lost to Obama, there was the question about her aspirations regarding the Presidency. Will Sarah Run? And that question is still outstanding today. Although she hasn’t announced, she’s made several moves to improve her position if she does decide to run. She’s now a frequent commentator on Fox News, has written several books, has had a brief series on cable television on TLC, formed her own Political Action Committee, and most importantly threw her support behind many individuals in their respective state level candidacies. Yes, Sarah is collecting “chips”. Those chips she will cash in at a later time if she decides to run.
Can She Win?
Although there are a lot of tactics to a Presidential Election, the general election strategy is focused on two main points: 1) Can your candidate motivate your base of voters to turn out more than you motivate your opponent’s base to turn out? 2) Then can you swing the necessary 1 to 3% of the voters in the swing states you need to win the Electoral College? To tackle point one, Sarah can turn out the base. Palin almost single-handedly pulled McCain’s Presidential Campaign out of the ditch. She motivated economic conservatives, social conservatives, libertarians, some independents and most importantly soccer/hockey moms (more on this later). What makes her so appealing? Personally, she reminds me of most of the women in my family: my wife, sister, mother, daughter-in-law, and sister-in-law. Like the women in my family, Sarah is confident, is outspoken, can raise a family, holds a full-time job, is willing to take on the “bad” guys, and can shoot a gun. Sarah’s record as Governor provides her credentials as an economic conservative in opposing wasteful spending and as a populist in her willingness to defend her constituents against those who would take advantage of them (in her case the big oil companies and local good ol’ boy Republican politicians). She’s pretty well-known in Alaska for stating her mind without sugar-coating it and for asking people to call her Sarah rather than Governor. Many people see Palin as one of them. In the end, the core conservative base turned out for the McCain/Palin ticket at campaign rallies, to volunteer, to contribute cash, and to vote. So put a big black check in that box. She can turn out the base.
On the other side, wow, she motivates the liberal base! Why is that? The Left believes they own the women’s vote. Sarah’s pull with soccer/hockey moms and working mothers is a threat. Thus they attack like crazed loons. Since the mainstream press has a strong liberal bias, they pounce on Palin with both feet. In the attacks, liberal women are the most vicious. Sarah makes them feel inferior because she seems like Superwoman. Sarah nullifies all the arguments that the liberal woman make about how unfair society is to them. Palin was Governor, raises a family, loves her husband, ran a business, exercises regularly, hunts big game, believes in God, is anti-abortion, and in general has a positive disposition about life. Oh and I forgot to mention, Sarah is pretty. Liberal women really hate that: She has accomplished all those things, and she’s pretty. Thus, Sarah causes liberal women to down their Zoloft with two glasses of Merlot before they can drag their bitter bodies to bed. A woman like Sarah winning the Presidency would just shatter the myth that the liberal left and their proxies like the National Organization for Women really look out for women’s best interest. The Left is really about defending the liberal establishment. They simply use women as a stepping stool to maintain their power. Sarah threatens that power. At this time, the rallying cry Palin provides the Left seriously offsets the strong turnout from her base. Net impact: neutral.
As mentioned above, she brought more energy to a Presidential campaign than anyone since Ronald Reagan, and she did it while she was number two on the ticket. But can she motivate that 1 to 3% of the electorate that decides the races in the battleground states that really decide the Presidency? Ohio, Florida and Nevada are especially pivotal to the ultimate outcome. They each have voted two times for the Republicans and two times for the Democrats over the last four Presidential campaigns. In the fall 2010 elections, Florida and Ohio took decidedly conservative turns. As we’ve seen, a lot can change in two years but Florida and Ohio look more likely to be Republican Presidential states in 2012. On the other hand, Nevada is tilting Democrat. The strength of the unions in the gaming and hotel industries, especially SEIU, brings a lot of political muscle to the Democrats in Nevada. At this point, put Nevada in the Democrats column. However if the Republican candidate in 2012 wins Ohio and Florida, they will likely win the Presidency. Can Sarah win Ohio and Florida? The answer to that question depends upon how Palin weathers the personal attacks on her by the Democratic machine and their allies in the Press.
Should She Run and Weather the Storm?
That’s really a personal question for her. For her quality of life over the next two years, it will be a whole lot better for her and her family if she doesn’t run. However if she ever wants to be President, she has to run in 2012. Much like Ronald Reagan, Sarah Palin is disliked by the press and is underestimated. The press of the day felt Reagan was too extreme and “just an actor”. Ultimately Reagan could not have won in 1980 if he didn’t run for President in 1968 and 1976. Most of the attacks against Reagan, like Palin, were personal and based on opinions rather than factual and based on his record. By running for President early like Reagan, she would force the press and the pundits to throw all their trash out to defeat her. In subsequent campaigns, the press and pundits can really only replay the same trash which ultimately loses its sting because the public grows tired of hearing the same old personal attacks over and over. In the end, this strategy can work for Palin. She needs to continue to take her punches and get everything out there. If she can weather all the personal attacks on her and her family in a Presidential campaign, she’ll actually be a stronger candidate in the end.
Will She Run?
I really have no idea. At this point, there aren’t any clear indicators about who can win the Republican nomination in 2012. However I still feel the likely nominee won’t be one of the finalists from 2008. So Sarah has as good of a shot as anyone. Only time will tell if the key 1 to 3% of the electorate will decide that Sarah is their Soul Sister, one of their kind.