Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Sarah Palin

I don't get into politics too often online, because that content space seems to be adequately filled already. Also, politics is usually really boring and depressing, all around.

John McCain's nomination of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, however, is _interesting_. It must be one of the most inspired asymetrical decisions I've ever seen in modern politics. It's going to totally change political calulus in the future.

Why? Because sex sells. We've never had a sex object on a national ticket before, and political science simply doesn't have a good model to predict what it will mean.

Most people seemed to think McCain was dead meat. Many avid right-wingers I know were regularly bemoaning the fact that his campaign was almost invisible (after they bemoaned the fact that he got the Republican nomination in the first place). They said that Senator Obama was totally dominating the media and the public discussion about the election.

But with the selection of Governor Palin as his running mate, Senator McCain turned the whole race on its head. I've almost never seen anything like it in modern politics. I don't think the impact of this event has even begun to be felt.

One of the most salient comments I saw (if I could find the reference again I'd link to it) said "the Democrats are acting like they know they are f*#cked". That would seem to be the case. They seem to be imploding almost by the hour. Every time the media plays the "lipstick on a pig" comment, the Democrats probably lose several thousand female votes. (Incidentally - I watched the video of that comment. The deliberate "pregnant pause" after delivering the "lipstick" line, waiting for the audience response, made it pretty clear that it was calculated and premeditated - and an astonishing failure of political judgement. As I say - implosion.)

I've always thought that the first minority or woman to win national office would be a conservative or independent, not a raging leftist, because you can't win without winning the middle ground. In national politics, around 40-45% is consistently conservative, and 25-30% is consistently liberal. That leaves 25-35% in the middle who decide almost every election. I actually think that, because of the electoral college, the percentage that actually decides the elections is much smaller - maybe 10% who can go either way, in the states that matter. Capture that 10% and you win, almost every time. Of that 10%, it may be a good assumption that a substantial fraction is non-minority female.

Beyond that, if the Republicans can pick off a few points among blue-collar, socially conservative but economically liberal voters in traditionally Democratic areas (so-called Reagan democrats), the Democratic ticket is in real trouble.

We'll see how it shakes out, and I'm very excited that it will be interesting for a change (the last time that I wrote that a Presidential election was interesting was in 1984), but it's hard to figure what the Democrats will do to recover the momentum.

Also interestingly, Sarah Palin looks like the closest thing to a libertarian that we've had on a national ticket in my lifetime. It will be very illustrative to see how that libertarian theme affects the course of the election, and the subsequent administration, whomever wins.


vince said...

Palin has some libertarian leanings, but as her past dealings in Alaska come more to light, there's pleanty of evidence she's no maverick. She's worked hard to get earmarks for Wasilla and Alaska, there's video evidence of her support for the "bridge to nowhere" until it's unpopularity caused her to reverse her support, there's video evidence that she believes creationism should be part of our school curriculum, and so on.

Just another politician looking to get elected. Yes, McCain chose well, because she's energized his campaign (especially among religious conservatives), and may, in fact, help him become the next president. Yes, her selection has caused the Obama campaign to foolishly concentrate on her and get off-target, which if continues, will lose them the election.

Frankly, I'm pretty fed up with both major parties.

Anne C. said...

"socially conservative but economically liberal"

I didn't so such a thing existed. Willing to hand out money but only to groups who don't morally offend you? Sounds like a church.

CW said...

One of my friends asked a prominent "neo-conservative" what it meant to be a neo-conservative. The guy replied that a neo-conservative was socially conservative but economically liberal. My response, when I heard that story, was that's no kind of conservative