Thursday, September 4, 2008

Palin Clinches Election - for Obama

For a minute there, I was afraid that sarie, who is obviously way smarter than Walnuts Depends, might actually use her small-town-on-the-frontier cred to reach out to independents, possibly even put this election back into play. An appeal to heartland values, especially right after Der Rudy's mouth-foamer, might have made an indelible impression.

But she didn't. She went straight for the wingnut freakazoid gut. And made them her willing slaves. They're building shrines to her in their front yards right now, gathering at work to sing her praises, preparing to-do lists for the McCain-Palin administration.

All 14 of them.

The wingnut freakazoid menace remains a clear and present danger to the nation, but while its psychopathic heart beats more insane than ever, the size of its fellow-traveler support is greatly diminished.

(More after the jump.)

Polls show the republican voter base shrinking below its 2004 zenith, below its 2000 strength, below its 1994 early growth, almost back to its 1944 nadir.

For the first time in 16 years, people self-identifying as Democrats outnumber people self-identifying as Republicans.

Now neither voter registration nor self-identification is a guarantee of electoral results - as we Democrats technically in the majority here in Kentucky have learned to our cost.

But if you know for a fact that your base alone is no longer big enough to vote your into office, wouldn't you make at least a token effort at appealing to those beyond your base? Wouldn't you try to avoid sucking up to your most fanatic supporters in a way that blatantly antagonizes the centrists you need to win?

As James Fallows explains, Palin's speech exposes and creates a number of long-term problems for her and the ticket.

... both Reagan in 1964 and Obama in 2004 were effective because, apart from their personal skills, they added something to their party's constituency that had not been there before. Reagan began recruiting the "Reagan Democrats," starting with white Southerners. Obama tried to recruit people tired of divisive partisanship.

Sarah Palin, at least tonight, did not seem interested in bringing anyone new into the fold. A speech that was great in the convention hall. We'll see how it affects the electoral lineup.

In a follow-up post, Fallows explains why mockery is best left to professionals.

First, if this speech energized the Republican base, I bet it did the same -- in opposition -- for the Democratic base. And the Democratic/independent/"had enough!" base is simply larger this year.

Second, I wonder how Palin's mocking, contemptuous tone about Obama will travel and age. It was great inside the hall -- again, think of Al Franken, who would of course have been funnier. But the track record of cocky-sounding newcomer politicians is not so great.


Wise guys, male or female, do better on talk shows or as satirists than as candidates. (Obvious reason: for an entertainer, support from 10% of the market means a runaway success. A politician needs a lot broader support to win.)

I've learned through the years that it's very hard to judge political turning points in real time. But my guess is that the last twelve hours will be seen as the moment when McCain pushed all his chips into the pot to bet on a "mobilize the base" strategy. Given the fundamental math in this election year, that would also be the moment when it became very hard for him to win.

Cross-posted at They Gave Us A Republic.