Many years ago, when I was but a teenaged college student, my political science professor taught me a valuable lesson. He returned a paper I had written with a grade of 37 on it and the following scribbled in the margin in angry red ink:
“Your paper is all supposition. Where is your supporting evidence?“
I learned from the experience. You can’t just phone it in and expect to be taken seriously.
In today’s Politico, another college professor, Jeremy D. Mayer, phones one in. We are told in italics at the bottom of his article that he’s an associate professor and director of the master’s program in public policy at George Mason University.
Early on in his piece, Prof. Mayer claims that Gov. Sarah Palin is unelectable as a presidential candidate. He presents no supporting evidence for that claim. No poll numbers, nothing.
He then says that Palin as a presidential candidate would be like Rev. Jesse Jackson was to the Democrats in the 1980s. The professor does list a number of reasons why Jackson was unelectable and concludes that no other candidate could criticize Jackson without the risk of losing the support of black voters. He says criticism of Palin would similarly cost her opponents the evangelical vote.
But Mayer follows that with another unsupported claim:
Her inability to appear even minimally competent made her one of the rare vice presidential nominees to damage the ticket in November.
What credible evidence does he offer for this? None. Perter Kirsanow wrote at National Review’s The Corner that Palin actually helped the ticket:
Prior to the selection of Palin, McCain’s campaign wasn’t exactly lighting up the Republican base. The names Romney and Pawlenty were generating mostly yawns. Palin’s selection electrified the base like no other candidate on a GOP ticket since Reagan. It caused many wary and dispirited conservatives to reconcile with the top of the ticket. Even though the media onslaught against her may have had an effect on the ticket’s final numbers, I’m not sure there’s any evidence that those numbers would’ve been higher had someone else been the VP nominee. My guess is the reverse is true.
But a guess is not good enough. Let’s look at some numbers:
Sixty-nine percent (69%) of Republican voters say Alaska Governor Sarah Palin helped John McCain’s bid for the presidency, even as news reports surface that some McCain staffers think she was a liability.
Only 20% of GOP voters say Palin hurt the party’s ticket, according to a new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey. Six percent (6%) say she had no impact, and five percent (5%) are undecided.
Ninety-one percent (91%) of Republicans have a favorable view of Palin, including 65% who say their view is Very Favorable. Only eight percent (8%) have an unfavorable view of her, including three percent (3%) Very Unfavorable.
When asked to choose among some of the GOP’s top names for their choice for the party’s 2012 presidential nominee, 64% say Palin. The next closest contenders are two former governors and unsuccessful challengers for the presidential nomination this year — Mike Huckabee of Arkansas with 12% support and Mitt Romney of Massachusetts with 11%.
Three other sitting governors – Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, Charlie Crist of Florida and Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota – all pull low single-digit support.
These findings echo a survey earlier this week which found that Republicans were happier with their vice presidential candidate than with their presidential nominee. Seventy-one percent (71%) said McCain made the right choice by picking Palin as his running mate, while only 65% said the party picked the right nominee for president.
But these are Republicans. What about swing voters? Mayer says:
Palin’s vapidity, inexperience and hard-right social views drove many moderates and conservatives into neutrality or the Obama camp.
He furnishes no evidence to support the claim, of course. Are you seeing the pattern here?
Mayer’s unsupported claim is shot down by statistics:
Of the 60 percent of voters who told exit pollsters Sarah Palin was an “important factor” in their decision, 56 percent voted for Sen. McCain. Those who said she was not an important factor voted for Sen. Obama by a 64 to 33 percent margin.
People who thought that Palin was a factor did make up a quarter of Obama’s vote. But that doesn’t mean that opposition to Palin “drove” those voters away from McCain. There could have been any number of other factors at play. It’s not exactly the mass exodus of voters claimed by Mayer and other political hit men who are gunning for the governor.
Now you would think that an associate professor and director of the master’s program in public policy at George Mason University could at least present a more compelling case against Sarah Palin than what he offers in this article. But, like most attacks on the governor, this one was phoned in, and it’s just another Politico hit piece.
Which begs the question, Where is Professor Mayer coming from? Some insight may be found by examining his political financial contributions. For some reason, Politico left Mayer’s 2004 donation to John Kerry out of their all-too-brief bio information in the italicized line at the end of the article. I wonder why? Perhaps the good professor’s credibility as an unbiased political expert would be somewhat diminished if the reader suspected he might be shilling for the Democrat Party. Gee, do ya think?
In another Politico article Mayer argued for a McCain-Lieberman “fusion” ticket. The professor needs better graduate research assistants. As J.A. Culvahouse explained, there were legal roadblocks to Lieberman’s viability as a potential McCain running mate:
“Five states have sore loser statutes,” he said, “[making] it very difficult for someone who’s not a member of the Republican Party to become the vice presidential nominee if they only switch parties to become a Republican shortly before the convention.”
Mayer is one of those Democrat donors who argue that liberalism is what the Republican Party needs to solve all of its problems. Yet none of them can tell us how more liberalism will bring considerable numbers of disaffected Reagan Democrats and social conservatives who were angry with McCain back into the Republican Party.
The Democrats and Vichy Republicans are going to have to do better than this to take out Sarah Palin. I’ll give it a grade of 37 out of a possible 100:
Update: Manly also calls BS on the professor.