Skip to main content

A Base Pick

Back before I started this blog (eight years ago), I assumed that the pundit class clearly knew more than the rest of us. They were surely tuned in, highly educated, certainly that had to be true for them to go on television and make snap interpretations of the mood of a nation as large and diverse as ours. After reading Eric Alterman's Sound and Fury: The Making of the Punditocracy and by actually getting my hands dirty, offering up opinions of my own on an almost daily basis I came to realize most of the people on television have no idea what they're talking about.

We've been told in the last couple of days that Sarah Palin is the roaring lion, the clarion call to the great unwashed that they have a home in the GOP. But what many, including myself, noted was that Palin's speech was great... for conservatives. Mostly anyone else watching is likely to be repulsed by its content and tone like liberals were or find it simply off-putting for other less inclined to have a political "side". This is key, because the first generation of Palin spin was that she was designed to appeal to the lingering Clinton vote out there. In her first words as McCain's running mate Palin paid lip service to Sen. Clinton. After Clinton's name was booed at a subsequent event I'm guessing that piece will now be downplayed or removed entirely.

Some new data is coming in from Washington Post/ABC:

Palin's ratings are highest among the groups already likely to be in the Republican camp, limiting the potential impact of the choice. Among conservative Republicans, 89 percent view her favorably, as do 81 percent of white evangelical Protestants. In both groups, large majorities hold "strongly favorable" opinions.

The poll, conducted the night after Palin accepted the second slot on the GOP ticket at the party's national convention in St. Paul, Minn., finds that 55 percent of all Americans said the Palin pick makes no difference in their support for McCain. Even more -- 67 percent -- said so of Democratic nominee Barack Obama's choice of Biden. In both cases, those who said the vice presidential choices would increase the odds of supporting one of the newly minted presidential nominees are those who were already predisposed to supporting that candidate.

As the Democratic convention showed us, the "PUMA" voter is largely a media-created phenomenon. Surely there are a few disaffected Clinton voters who will go for McCain, but there is likely an equal amount of people who believe aliens are controlling our minds with flouridated water. The vast majority of Sen. Clinton's supporters are going to vote for Sen. Obama, who while they may not be as big a fan of him like folks like myself, understand that on the major issues of our time that Sen. Obama is about a nanometer away from Sen. Clinton - and these are what these voters care about. A pick like Palin is likely to excite some parts of the Republican base, but these were mostly McCain voters to begin with -- maybe they just won't be holding their noses at the ballot box.

The base vote plan is the same brilliance that has led Bush to be sub-30% for most of his second term. The Dobson/Chamber of Commerce alliance is nice and all on election day, but it isn't a governing coalition of any sort. Sen. Obama has the Democratic base, moderate Republicans, and independents who aren't being fooled by McCain's recent attempts to extricate himself from the death grip of George W. Bush. Nothing is a given, but the latter coalition is more likely to win an election in 2008.