Sunday, August 31, 2008

Compound Interest

In the Obamacan obsession that McCain's VP choice is all about them (and I include the MSM in this group), few of them are paying attention to the true impact of Palin's presence on the ballot. As always, events can change the calculations (just as the event of Palin's selection did on Friday), and I don't think we will have a clear view until after the Republican Convention, but some effects can be anticipated.

The political issue is bigger than Palin herself. There are a wide range of reactions to her selection and her ability to garner votes (as opposed to generate buzz) is probably narrow, though wider than it should have been. With regard to Democratic voters, putting Palin on the ticket should have had the same effect with Dem and Dem-leaning Independent women voters as putting Alan Keyes on the ticket would have had with Dem and Dem-leaning Independent AA voters, to wit, negligible. However, with the misogyny and Hillary-bashing of the primaries and the out-of-the-gate misogyinistic reactions to Palin herself, the Obamacans will suffer measureable attrition from this constituency. Among Hillary voters I have read and/or emailed with, most are laughing their asses off at the hysteria of the Obamacans, but most also are saying they won't vote for a conservative. A significant number who were considering voting McKinney or simply leaving the ballot blank say they will vote Palin. None who said they would vote Obama are changing their minds.

The new voters Palin is bringing in are on the Republican side, evangelical voters who were uninspired by or distrustful of McCain but who will eagerly turn out for Palin. The argument about McCain's poor health (which I think is both bogus and a bad, bad argument for Dems to make) is actually a plus for them, because it offers the prospect of one of their own as President. She will probably bring out moderate Republican women who would have gone for Hillary, don't really like McCain, and would probably have sat out this election round.

The real impact that Palin can have on the race is the way in which she compounds the effect of the Republican ticket. The huffing and puffing about her qualifications and experience has no effect on the Republican base. If anything, her ability to piss off the SCLM is a feature, not a bug. She is a Media Darling to them because the media hates her. She adds an extra exclamation point to the Republican argument with constituencies whose voting preferences decide elections. The focus on women voters, left and right, ignores that she may be a statistically significant draw for blue collar voters, especially those who are already somewhat culturally conservative. This is not so much that she will bring in voters that McCain cannot, as is the case with evangelicals, but that she reinforces his appeal to that constituency, and "seals the deal".

Where I anticipate her being a "game changer" will be in state and local races, where a slight increase in turnout can change results. When some races and ballot measures are decided by a few hundred votes, getting out twenty more voters here, eight more voters there will pay off. I don't think that this was one of McCain's considerations when he chose her, but it is most certainly a consideration of the state party officials who are dancing a gleeful jig. It may endanger governerships, state legislatures and some House races Dems were hoping to pick up. For example, Washington State will have a rematch of Dem. Gregoire and Rep. Rossi for governor. The last time, Gregoire won by a razor thin margin after multiple recounts that are not considered valid by the losing side. In news reports I have read, Rossi is very happy with the choice of Palin to help him turn out his own cultural conservative base (he is a truly bat-shit insane culture warrior who cleans up nice) and expects another close battle with Gregoire - which he will win this time. Washington state is far more conservative than people realize, and adding Palin may actually turn Washington red because of the makeup of the Republican Party. This may be repeated in red and purple states in specific races where the race is close.

The next consideration is for ballot measures and initiatives, such as the anti-Affirmative Action measures in Colorado and Missouri (among other places) and the anti-gay marriage state constitutional amendment in California. Palin now adds an appealing and energetic face to put on the GOTV efforts on the Republican side. Interest in her, her marketability, raises the viability of these policy measures. My second thought after seeing her name in the news as McCain's VP pick was that California will soon have anti-gay bigotry enshrined in the state constitution because she will bring out the fundies to vote for this measure. My third thought was that California is no longer a shoo-in for the Dems because of the way in which a telegenic, appealing cultural conservative candidate who hits all the right libertarian notes will herself be reinforced by the anti-gay marriage initiative.

Choices like Palin are risky. This may yet all backfire on McCain. What I see, however, is an accidentally savvy ticket selection that is generating buzz and will redound to the Republican's advantage in the fall. It may not win the White House for them, but it revivifies an otherwise tired and disaffected Republican base.

The deliberate actions of the DNC and their selected candidate to antagonize and alienate the Democratic base only compounds the problem.



Skepticalwoman said...

This is a little off point, but I wanted to respond to some of the comments to your last few posts, as well as comments on SCPBs (so-called progressive blogs) --comments that brought up the question of who is sexist or feminist and who is not.

Many people seem to believe that feminism is a property of leftist politics and sexism a property of the right, but there is a lot of evidence to contradict such a simplistic formulation: Let me point out that Sandra Day O'Connor, the first female Supreme Court Justice, appointed by Ronald Reagan in 1981, and very conservative on most issues, was a staunch defender of women and cast the deciding vote in many cases regarding sexual discrimination. Women cabinet members, ambassadors, etc. have served in Republican administrations, and of course there are lots of Republican women in elected office.

On the other hand, many so-called liberal men are pretty regressive when it comes to gender equality. We might trace this history back to the French Revolution: When Olympe de Gouges took the famous publication "The Rights of Man" and changed all the iterations of "man" to read "woman," the revolutionary government had her beheaded. Carole Pateman's "The Sexual Contract" demonstrates that those so-called democratic revolutions of the late 18th century did not intend to overthrow patriarchy, but rather to shift power and privilege from the fathers to the sons. Robin Morgan's edited collection "Sisterhood is Powerful," an Urtexts of "second wave" feminist, makes clear that the so-called radical male leaders of the "new left" still wanted the women to fetch them coffee and attend to their sexual needs.

So, it does not surprise me at all that Republicans would select a female candidate who has both conservative credentials and a positive feeling for other women in public life. I won't vote for McCain/Palin, but I do take Palin seriously.

I do agree with Anglachel that John McCain is a sexist (and by the way, what were the circumstances in which he left is injured first wife for his present one--reminds me a little of Newt Gingrich's family values). But then wasn't Joe Biden the head of the judiciary committee that denigrated the testimony of Anita Hill?

marirebel said...

I for one am not laughing my ass off at the hysteria of the Obamacons because the hysteria translates into virulent misogyny. I am learning all over again that the Democratic Party is no friend of women. Like Republican men, Democratic men appear obsessed with women’s bodies and their reproductive capacities. Look at John Aravosis over at Americablog wasting resources trying to figure out when Palin’s oldest son was conceived. Look at the Cheetoland claims that Palin’s youngest son is really the child of her oldest daughter. The obsession with Palin’s body (and that of her seventeen year old daughter) is not an isolated incident among a few Obama supporters, it is more widespread, manifesting in comments about Palin’s hair, her nakedness, her availability for the white masculinist gaze.

And, I do think Palin will be a game changer at the national level. She will reinvigorate the Republican Party, she will bolster McCain’s credentials as a reformer, she will galvanize the bitter people who cling to guns and religion, and she will pick-up votes from women of both parties sickened by the hatred spewed at women in this election cycle. While conservative, Palin is not bat-crazy. Obama and his minions stoked the destructive flames of misogyny in order to consolidate power. These destructive flames just might destroy them now.

Unknown said...

I, a life Democrat had already decided to vote for McCain, but four of my sisters who were planning to skip voting for president were won over by Palin. It's anecdotal, but if my sisters who were supporting Hillary are now enthusiastically supporting the R ticket is an indication of other Hillary supporters, Obama is in trouble.

Bob Harrison said...

Spot on as usual. I have been left sputtering by this post:

As a male, I just can't address the issues I see. I like strong, independent women (yeah, like my mother, who was really single mom married to an abusive drunk-- at least for a while.) Sometimes, it takes a woman to sort out these sexist issues. I certainly wish Palin luck and personally feel she's the most qualified person in the race for president. At least she has actually managed something before, nothing any of the senators can claim.

Anglachel said...

To the conservative commenters who have left some very civil and interesting comments, thank you.

Since this is a liberal democratic blog, I won't be posting the comments. Only about 1/3 to 1/2 of all comments get released here, so you're not alone. I do appreciate the insights you're providing, and hope you will continue to let me know what you think.