Wednesday, November 4, 2009

So Now NY-23 Doesn't Matter? Sarah Palin's Balancing Act Ahead

We certainly live in interesting times. Off-year elections typically generate as much interest as a limp teabag, and that is apparently what we've got in upstate New York. However, the day after excitement is almost as high as that leading up to the election. At least for us political junkie types.

Interesting side note (h/t Media Matters) that updates a comment in my last post. It seems that Adam Nagourney of the New York Times reported on Monday that a loss in NY-23 would be disastrous for the Republican Party (despite the fact that Doug Hoffman, the challenger ran on the Conservative Party ticket) and will highlight the deep divisions in the party. Today, NY-23 is not even on the radar as he exclaims that the Republican wins will energize the party and set the stage for fund-raising, attracting candidates, and whipping up the base.The significance of a loss in 23, now? Not so much.

The greater implications, in my opinion, are to Sarah Palin. Her behavior is clearly that of someone who is planning to make a run for president in 2012, although someone who either has very poor advisors, or more likely, someone who knows it all and refuses to listen to those advisors (you just cannot ask people to pay to hear you speak in Iowa, a state you must win if you want to win the primaries).

Palin's decision to support Hoffman in NY-23 and her victory in running Scozzafava out of the race energized the Tea Bagger fringe of an already weakened party. Not quite 20% of Americans identify themselves as Republicans at this time, and Sarah Palin has clearly decided to chart her own course. By refusing to attend Republican events over the past year, and now supporting Hoffman, it is clear that Palin believes that she can either re-form the Republican Party or form her own.

Interestingly, in demanding purity - as defined by Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh - Republican leaders who had been supporting Scozzafava immediately threw their support behind Hoffman as soon as Palin and Fox News did rather than suffer the media backlash that would most certainly have occurred. Republicans planning to run in 2012, particularly Pawlenty, who was the most surprising because of his previous moderation, almost shoved each other out of the way to jump on that bandwagon.

Rather than widen the umbrella and try to appeal to a wider base, the Republican Party is following the wacky GOPhers on Fox News and the blogger from Alaska. This may win them local elections, but no one can win the presidency without independents, and regardless of how Obama does or does not do on the major issues, it is unlikely that independents are going to vote for the Tea Bag candidate.

It will be interesting to watch Sarah Palin balance on that fine line as she tries to hang on to her Republican supporters as she moves further and further into the wacko extremist right.

Thanks for stopping by. Come back soon.

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