So if anyone out there is still convinced that Sarah Palin is a Fantastic, Gutsy, Bold, Mavericky choice that will Appeal to Women and Disaffected Clinton Voters...
...well, the polling would beg to differ.
It's evident by now that John McCain, doubtless spooked by the remarkable show of unity at the Democratic convention, has realized that he isn't going to get millions of disaffected Clinton supporters to flock to his candidacy in droves. It is equally clear that he was counting on those voters to win the election, as his campaign aides attest:
As one McCain aide put it: "We either get Hillary's voters and we win, or we don't. It's not a mystery." Said another: "This campaign is all about the middle."
Hence, the selection of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin. As Rasmussen puts it:
Her choice is clearly aimed at peeling away disaffected female voters in the Democratic Party still smarting from Hillary Clinton’s failure to grab the nomination – and Barack Obama’s decision not to even consider her for the number two slot. This was clear when Palin praised Ferraro and Clinton -- to the Republican crowd -- following McCain's introduction of her yesterday. Referring to the number of votes Clinton received in the Democratic primaries, she said, "It was rightly noted in Denver this week that Hillary left 18 million cracks in the highest, hardest glass ceiling in America, but it turns out the women of America aren't finished yet and we can shatter that glass ceiling once and for all."
Comparing herself to Hillary Clinton? How dare she. Not that anyone should be shocked; it's the only winning move for the McCain campaign.
So how's that strategy working out for the Republicans? Evidently, it's not working out in the slightest.
What do Democratic women - a number of whom, presumably, voted for Hillary Clinton - think of Sarah Palin, anyway?
Here's a finding from Gallup: Among Democratic women -- including those who may be disappointed that Hillary Clinton did not win the Democratic nomination -- 9% say Palin makes them more likely to support McCain, 15% less likely.
In other words, Palin makes the McCain ticket less popular among Democratic women, not more popular. Damn, it's almost as if Democratic women care less about a candidate's gender, and more about the economic, social, international and environmental issues they've been fighting for for generations!
And how does the selection of Palin play among independents - presumably a moderate bunch? CBS reports:
Before the Democratic convention, McCain enjoyed a 12-point advantage with independent voters, but now Obama leads among this group 43 percent to 37 percent. Obama's lead among women has also grown to 14 points (50 percent to 36 percent), and the Democrat maintained the lead he had before the convention among voters who supported Senator Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primaries.
That is a very bad moon rising for the McCain campaign. It gets worse:
From Rasmussen: Some 38% of men said they were more likely to vote for McCain now, but only 32% of women. By a narrow 41% to 35% margin, men said she was not ready to be president -- but women soundly rejected her, 48% to 25%.
Ah, but surely she'll do well among working-class white voters, right? After all, just look at her personal story - she eats mooseburgers! Mooseburgers, I say!
Yeah, well, it seems that most voters prefer this other guy, who himself hails from a humble background as a working-class Catholic...and, you know, has also served 35 years in the U.S. Senate and actually knows a thing or seven about international relations:
"Suppose you could cast two separate votes in November -- one just for president and another vote just for vice president. Who would you be more likely to vote for if you could vote separately for vice president: Joe Biden, the Democrat, or Sarah Palin, the Republican?"
Biden (D) 54
Palin (R) 41
Well, surely the populace is convinced McCain, that straight-talking express train that he is, made the decision for the right reasons?
"Do you agree or disagree with the following statements?"
"John McCain chose Sarah Palin because he felt the time had come to nominate a woman."
"John McCain chose Sarah Palin because he thought having a woman on the ticket would help him get elected."
The public agrees, the press agrees, everyone agrees: this was a Hail Mary pass by the McCain campaign to win the election. It was a move borne out of desperation, as they started to realize that Clinton supporters and Democratic women are, by and large, not sufficiently stupid to abandon their Democratic ideals because their favored candidate lost.
It has backfired. Sarah Palin excites the conservative base, and that's great for them. She doesn't do much for anybody else, and her selection forces the McCain campaign to abandon the one good talking point they had, for if Sarah Palin is experienced enough to be president, Obama is experienced enough to be God.
As Bill Clinton said last Wednesday, in Obama's first presidential decision - the selection of a vice president - the Illinois Senator hit a home run.
In McCain's first presidential decision, he has grounded into a double play.