Diary

Her one shot

{this diary is not meant to depress GOP GOTV efforts. In fact, given the general opinion of people here, I suspect it will only make you work harder come Nov 4th. Assuming, that is, that you agree with my thesis.}

I’m going to put forth a thesis that will likely be controversial in this environment. I think if McCain loses Nov 4th that Sarah Palin’s political career is pretty much over.

You can’t just “try try again”Losing VP candidates have a bad track record of getting another shot at the Whitehouse. Here’s a list of the VP candidates from the losing ticket of the last 8 presidential elections:

1976 Dole1980 Mondale1984 Ferraro1988 Bentsen1992 Quayle1996 Kemp2000 Lieberman2004 Edwards

Of those 8 only Dole and Mondale managed to come back from their VP loses and make a presidential run, and both of those were spectacularly unsuccessful. Edwards tried to get the nod for 2008 but came in a distant third, against two unconventional candidates. Neither political party tends to be very gracious towards their losing candidates. On the contrary in the inevitable finger pointing to follow the candidate themselves almost always gets a good heaping share of the blame.

And let’s be honest, for the GOP, if McCain fails to seal the deal the finger pointing is likely to be more nasty than usual. McCain and Palin are from very different parts of the party, and those parts have been a bit ill at ease in recent years. Both factions are going to want to defelct blame from themselves, and the easiest way will be to blame the other faction. There are reports that the internal McCain campaign is already seeing divisions as the Palin backers and McCain backers try to make the other side the primary target (with the assumption of a loss). Examples here.

Now the conservatives may well win any finger pointing arguments in the aftermath, but future GOP tickets are still going to need the moderates and it is unlikely that they’ll choose someone who will be a polarizing figure, which Palin already is given the reactions to her from Kathleen Parker, George Will, and Christopher Buckley among other moderates.

So not only do failed Veep candidates rarely get second chances but Palin is likely to be a central figure in the potential fallout, which can only further make a come back tour improbable.

Burning the bridge to nowhereAnother aspect is the question of what Palin will do after Nov 4th. Her time in Alaska has been contentious and looks to be more so. She rose to power through infighting in the state GOP against the establishment (also GOP) figures. While I think that was ultimately a good thing it certainly made her enemies.

Case in point- the Troopergate scandal has been broadly bipartisan in it’s digging into the Governor. Now it may be fair to say that that’s just because both parties have the torches and pitchforks broken out to go after Palin, but regardless of how justified or unjustified it may be, Palin will be returning to a state that is far from unified behind her.

Her support from Alaska republicans has slipped a bit but so far is still strong. It might survive a failed veep run and the troopergate fall out but it also might not. I wonder how much her political fortunes in Alaska depend on Stevens and Young getting drummed out of service. Maybe Achance can comment on this but it seems to me like them going would be distinctly good for her and them staying would be very bad.

If Palin were able to return to Alaska and serve out her current term, and possibly more, successfully then that certainly would help future ambitions. Dole returned to the Senate after 1976 (I’m still not sure how or why Mondale ended up on the dem ticket in 1984, maybe it was a sacrifice play given Reagan’s popularity).

I think its an open question at this point how much success Palin will have when the republican legislation leaders are the ones leading the troopergate investigation.

I might be wrong here. I’m not from Alaska, I’m not privy to a first row seat. If Achance says I’m completely wrong then I’m wrong.

The honeymoon’s overPalin’s favorability ratings were initially very good, but they’ve declined since her spectacular role out. Maybe that’s not her fault but caused by poor decisions on the part of the campaign, or media bias, or bitter partisan attacks, or whatever. The fact remains in every poll I’ve seen her favorability ratings have dropped pretty substantially since early September. Here’s an example going as far back as mid September.

In some she has negative ratings (i.e. unfavorable above favorable). Those may be outliers but pretty clearly the bloom is off the rose and the novelty value of Palin’s pick is gone. That’s a bump she’ll never get again, she’ll have to fight for any future gains against the now established image of her.

Her One shotIt’s not impossible for Palin to get another shot at the Whitehouse, but it seems very unlikely. Under the circumstances I think it is very likely that this is it, her one shot. Given that it suggests that Jindal was very smart not to risk it under similar circumstances.

(as a side note, I also suspect that Hillary fought as hard as she did in part because this was her one shot too, and she’s basically consigned to being a senator from here on out).