Does Sarah Palin help the GOP in Congressional races?
Originally published on BuzzFlash.com on Tue, 09/23/2008 – 9:47am
There are a number of people who are asking why John McCain picked Sarah Palin. For all her faults, and there are a lot of them, there is one way she might help the GOP, even if the McCain/Palin ticket loses in November.
Rallying the base is a key reason for picking a VP pick, at least it is for the Republicans, who are more concerned about their base than Democrats are about their own base. And Palin, like her or not, has energized the Republican base.
In mid-August, the GOP was depressed. They had many House and Senate races that weren’t going well. Even the GOP knew that the Democrats would make significant strides in November. Several Republican senators running for re-election didn’t show up at the convention, and very few current major players spoke at the convention in St. Paul. And a Joe Lieberman or Tom Ridge pick would drive the base to stay home on Election Day.
But along came Sarah Palin, and the base is back. There isn’t enough of the current GOP base to get McCain/Palin elected, but there are plenty in certain areas where the Dems were hoping would stay home so that crucial seats would flip to the Democratic side.
“Sarah Palin definitely gave a boost, no question,” said Sen. John Ensign (Nev.), chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee. “In races where we were way down, a lot of those races are even. In some of the races that were even, we are up.”
There are the obvious Senate and House races in Alaska. A potential sweep on Election Day of Alaskan representation for the Democratic Party may still happen, but Palin’s presence makes it more likely that Ted Stevens (84 and under indictment) and Don Young (75 and under investigation) will return to Washington.
But there are Senate races in Mississippi, Colorado, New Mexico, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Oregon, and Minnesota where turnout is vital. In all of those states, Republicans have the seat or Republicans are retiring.
There are countless House seats where having the GOP base stay home would have helped. Tim Mahoney (D-FL) won Mark Foley’s old seat two years ago and would love to keep it. Dan Seals in Illinois is trying again to oust Mark Kirk (R-IL) in Chicago’s far northern suburbs.
The difficult task is figuring if there are specific areas where Palin helps (other than Alaska). She’s not a natural for the Appalachian areas of Pennsylvania and West Virginia or the manufacturing belts of Michigan and Ohio. But the overall base in those areas and others are motivated.
So Palin may be a distraction to the MSM, but her agenda is clear: get Republicans to the polls. And even if it’s not enough to get her and her running mate in the White House, the ticket may do some damage for a President Obama: fewer Democrats in the House and especially in the Senate.