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Don’t Run, Sarah! Newsweek Assesses Palin’s Electoral Prospects (Again)

Posted on February 8 2010 10:36 am
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Two parts predictable, one part probable: Newsweek’s Daniel Stone takes a look at Sarah Palin’s Tea Party Nation convention speech and determines her unable to win a national election.  Shock!

However, aside from his own unambiguous sentiment and Newsweek’s penchant for Palin mockery, is he necessarily wrong?

The basis of her speech, as she put it, was simple: rein in government spending, be more firm on national security, and keep the government out of businesses and people’s lives. And not one person in the room didn’t think she was dead right.

I doubt anyone at the Tea Party convention would disagree with that platform.  Properly articulated, I also doubt most Americans would either.  In fact, this seems like a solid platform for any candidate seeking office in our center-right country.  Didn’t our current Commander in Chief do so?  Shouldn’t that be enough?

Palin’s fiery rebuke of Washington certainly firmed her base, but it did little to widen her appeal to moderates and independents, two groups without which she’d have a real tough time passing the threshold of electoral votes.

I have my own concerns about her electability.  But, would a rebuke of Washington’s runaway spending be what turns indies away?  Or something else?

(At one point, she even mocked the majority of voters who voted for President Obama, asking them, “How’s that hopey changey thing working for you now?”)

Could the very qualities which engender such devotion among her fans (her willingness to charge into debate, folksy-charm, unique colloquialisms) inspire the exact opposite amongst some in the electorate?  Surely we can consider personality a determining factor if:

  1. Her supporters laud her personality as a draw for a Palin presidential run, and
  2. We actually elected a man on image alone this past election cycle.

It matters.  Could her personality be a liability?  Also, has the media been effective in branding her inept or inexperienced?  Serious questions.

A moot point, perhaps.  According to Stone, her speech might have been the death knell of her presidential aspirations (not the first time we’ve heard that, mind you):

Which is to say that electorally speaking, tonight’s speech may have been a self-inflicted wound for Palin, offering ammo to opponents to argue that she’s simply too far right and too niche to win widespread support for national office.

If the presidency is what she wants at all.

That may have been the point. With tonight’s speech, Palin cemented her role as the de facto head of the tea-party movement—but in a bigger sense, as the fearless warrior leading conservatives into battle in November and beyond. That might be where she’s most effective (and undoubtedly where the pay is best). Because at this point, it’s increasingly unlikely that she’ll seek national office. Until now, the Palin guessing game has focused on whether she’s running. On her current course, she simply wouldn’t be able to win.

She might or might not decide to run in 2012.  Until then, we should watch her decisions, consider her record and examine all candidates judiciously.  The last time I checked, no one has the nomination yet.  Let’s keep it that way until all bids are in.

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