What John McCain's VP Choice Says

Lördag, 30. Augusti 2008     2 kommentti(a)

The choice of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin by Senator John McCain as his running-mate on the Republican Party ticket suggests a number of things about how the rest of the campaign will be run and what Team McCain see as their strengths and weaknesses. It also makes it possible to guess at some potential policy implications of a McCain Administration.

Governor Palin has been described in a number of good profiles. Three aspects are particularly interesting vis a vis the election:

1) She is strongly Pro Life (anti-abortion rights).
2) Her positions on Environment and Climate Change are broadly similar to John McCain’s, though she favors controlled drilling in the ANWR (not surprisingly considering the increase in income this would bring to Alaska).
3) She is a fiscal conservative, not afraid of going head-to-head with members of her own party over fiscal, spending and budgetary policy.

These three suggest themselves as reasons for why McCain ultimately chose Palin as his running-mate, but also what Team McCain see as their path to victory in November.

The first priority is to shore up the (largely) conservative evangelical base; not that the base would vote for a Democrat, but it may simply stay at home if the candidate isn’t to their liking. John McCain has tried to reassure the base about his Pro Life conservative views, both directly (Saddleback) and by inserting into speeches and statements ‘code words’ (such as "the cause of life" in his August 23, 2008 radio address) that the base deciphers with ease. Yet, other past statements and apparent closeness to abortion rights supporters such as Joe Lieberman have increased worries among Republicans that the evangelical base would simply not be fired up enough about John McCain to show up to vote in November. Governor Sarah Palin’s strong and principled Pro Life stance will help here, and is sure to reassure more of the base, thereby increasing turnout. This is especially important in a state like Florida, which McCain clearly thinks will be more securely put into the win column by the choice of Palin.

The second priority seems to be to get some of Senator Hillary Clinton’s most conservative female supporters to ‘switch’ parties. It may be possible to attract some of Clinton’s supporters but without access to detailed county level polling data, it is difficult know how many such supporters truly exist in states that are up for grabs. Here Sarah Palin’s staunch Pro Life position is likely to alienate many potential switchers, but depending on the area in question, Governor Palin’s fiscal conservative credentials may be enough for some to overlook her abortion position.

Accordingly, the third priority seems to be to give fiscally conservative voters (and some Reagan Democrats) a reason to vote for the Republican party. Over the past four years these voters have seen both personal financial scandals & corruption from Republicans, as well as ever-growing deficits. The choice of a person who has gone head-to-head against party elders in the name of more responsible spending and fiscal discipline, is surely meant to attract those voters back securely into the Republican fold.

With the tickets now effectively finalized, in the coming weeks we will see how both parties will position themselves as well as their opposition. What is clear is that though risky, the choice of Sarah Palin by John McCain as his running-mate has laid the groundwork for even more spectacular fireworks as this election cycle nears it zenith.

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Keskustelu (2 kommenttia)

2.9.2008, Citizen Kane

Based on the recent news, how would you see that the situation has changed, now that Mrs Palin's daughter has been reported to be "up the duff"(pregnant)?

Will this new turn affect the Republican voters in any way, or do they simply not give a toss, now that the hockey player is willing to (and reportedly has always been planning to) marry that poor teenager?

Not that chatting about it here matters, the registered voters of U.S. will have the final vote, literally.

Cool new website, keep the blogs coming!

4.9.2008, Charly Salonius-Pasternak

Good questions. I don't think Bristol Palin's pregnancy in itself changes the election dynamics meaningfully. Voters who identify themselves as Republicans and have decided to vote for Sen. John McCain as president are extremely unlikely to see Ms. Palin's pregnancy as a negative against her mother, or the ticket as a whole.

For the election dynamics to change appreciably, any revelations would have to be directly linked with Gov. Sarah Palin herself (bribery, an abortion, adultery, outright racism etc.), or if her family are involved, approach actions that are legally criminal and serious.

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