Friday, July 3, 2009

Palin was different

Ezra Klein, in the wake of Sarah Palin's surprise resignation, quotes some research by a Penn graduate student that indicates that Palin had an unprecedented effect on the presidential race, completely out of line with that of any other candidate for the second spot:
Judgment on her was incontestably important. The correspondence between dynamics in her ratings and dynamics in McCain vote intentions is astonishingly exact. Her marginal impact in vote-intention estimation models dwarfs that for any Vice-Presidential we are aware of, certainly for her predecessors in 2000 and 2004. And the range traversed by her favorability ratings is truly impressive. But why? We are unaware of any theory that opens the door to serious impact from the bottom half of the ticket.
I don't think this is particularly surprising at all. Most veep candidates come from a pretty narrow range of candidates, the experienced governor/senator/representative community. They usually have some kind of track record, might have been contenders for the presidency themselves, and are genially competent (Dan Quayle notwithstanding).

This does not describe Sarah Palin at all. She was and is a woman of modest accomplishments, an appalling lack of qualification for a presidency that she very well might have had to assume, and an ideologue whose beliefs were entirely out of step with the mood of the nation.

In other words, we don't need a theory to wrap around the Palin effect, we need to look at Palin herself - and that's just what the nation did, and they decided that they didn't want her a heartbeat away from the Oval Office, and McCain was reckless in picking her. If there's anything to be learned here, it is that the "bold" pick will be taken negatively if it represents an unacceptable amount of risk. We might conclude that Oprah is unlikely to be tabbed any time soon.

1 comment:

2Truthy said...

When it comes to the clearly not-so-ready for prime-time Sarah Palin, I agree that "we don't need a theory" such as the one Ezra provides to know which way the wind blows with the Willing Wasilla Tool of the Evangelical Right.

On the other hand, if we are to fairly summarize her impressive list of campaign media trail disasters, she sealed the deal when she couldn't muster a semi-coherent answer when Katie Couric - who I might add gave her a fighting chance -- asked her which newspapers she reads.

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