In New York 23, some unexpected backers: Part 4 Sarah Palin

Cross posted at Freedom Defended

As I continue the observations about what happened in NY-23 from my boots on ground perspective, I am now going to do one that is a little different.

Sarah!! was catapulted to national prominence when she was picked as John McCain’s running mate. The right instantly fell in love and the left was immediately driven to irrational hate. The left (and some in the GOP leadership) hates Governor Palin for the same reason the right loves her: she is not a member of the elite ruling class. She is similar to Fred!! In many ways; a simple American perspective, an ability to clearly articulate her conservative views, and a natural connection with the average joe. On the other hand, she is more of a populist than an intellectual. She has a keen political mind, but sometimes fails to have the depth behind her arguments that someone like Senator Thompson does. That said, she still compares favorably with intellectual “heavyweights” of the other side such as President Obama and Vice President Biden.

NY-23 would not have been on the map without Fred Thompson, but it would not have received the wide ranging Republican support without Sarah Palin. After Sarah Palin endorsed Doug Hoffman, his campaign received $116,000 in contributions in one day. One of the campaign staffers, who stated that he was not real fond of Sarah Palin, said that the money and phone calls that came in immediately after her Facebook posting was unreal. Erick Erickson here at Redstate took the opportunity to make his headline Palin Wins. Pawlenty Fails. Within days, Tim Pawlenty had thrown his support behind Doug Hoffman, with a stampede of Republicans charging in as well. Whatever a person may think about Sarah, I can think of no other person right (or left) of center with that kind of influence. Sarah Palin is as responsible as anyone else for Doug Hoffman moving from 16% in the polls to 45% on the ballot in three weeks.

I wish I could end the story there, and leave you all with good thoughts about Sarah, but I have to address some negatives to the story. First, Sarah really was a Johnny-come-lately to the NY-23 race. The battle lines had been drawn and the skirmish had begun before she took the field. Understandable, but she gets far too much credit for her decision as if it was a bold move. Her influence was good, game changing even, but she would deserve the accolades much more if she been on the scene earlier.

Secondly, Sarah Palin and many of the other pro-Hoffman groups were probably tactically responsible for Doug’s loss even as they were strategically responsible for his surge. At the end of the campaign, when Scozzafava dropped out and endorsed Bill Owens, Joe Biden and others were able to use Sarah Palin and others as a club to beat Hoffman with. It worked, with late deciders going to Owens. Many of the campaign people on the ground were happy with the money and support brought in by Sarah, but they were also very concerned what her polarizing stature would do. In a district such as NY-23, the general populace does not like Sarah Palin, even if it is because all they know is what the leftist media has told them. If the election had been two days earlier or two days later I am convinced Doug Hoffman would have emerged the victor. More on that in another post.

There is no easy answer on this subject. Sarah Palin has a deep and wide love amongst conservatives, and among a certain set of independents, but the hate from the left and the perception by many moderates is a serious drawback. I am a Palin supporter, and I would be infinitely happy to see her as our next POTUS, but I am starting to question whether nominating her would be wise. With her political talent, she might be able to overcome the perception, and 2012 is a long ways off. I think, as with Fred Thompson, it may be that the best we can hope for from Sarah is destroying the President’s agenda with Facebook posts and launching conservative candidates into the spotlight. If that is the case, it is still a positive for us to have Sarah Palin out there. We just need to be careful how tightly she is connected to campaigns in less than conservative areas.