Saturday, November 29, 2008

The Palin Gamble

If things don't go as Saxby hopes on Tuesday, look for a post game analysis that weighs the impact of Sarah Palin's visit to Georgia. Saxby's counting on Palin to be his "closer," as she swoops in from Alaska on the day before the election to save his struggling campaign, but there's a real risk for Chambliss that Palin will do for him in Georgia exactly what she did for John McCain nationally: further motivate the democratic base in Georgia-specifically democratic women-in a way that even Barack Obama might not have been able to do.

Democratic women are a key voting block that is currently under-represented in early voting. Trust me when I tell you that to a person, the democratic women I know have a viscerally negative reaction to Sarah Palin - and that's before she opens her mouth to criticize Jim Martin, who has a reputation as a reliable advocate for women. It was Georgia women who rallied and pushed Jim to victory in the primary run-off. If you think that Vernon Jones can motivate Georgia women to go vote by slapping Obama's picture on a mailer, wait until you see what Sarah Palin does when she opens her mouth and calls Jim Martin a socialist. There's the real risk for Chambliss that Palin's visit and her rhetoric will send democratic women to the polls-in droves.

Yes, far from a no-brainer, the Palin visit is risky, both for Chambliss and the GOP. First of all, if there's anyone who thinks that Palin's in Georgia to help Saxby, think again. Palin is gracing Georgia for one reason: to help herself by keeping her national name ID alive. This women still thinks she can be president, and if she is viewed as The One who rescued Chambliss, then her claim to control of the national GOP will be strengthened. Now, I admit that as a democrat, I would like nothing better than for the Palin wing of the party to win the struggle for control of that sinking ship, but it may not be a winning strategy for the GOP. But that works for me.

Admittedly, Saxby didn't have a lot of choice. If he had run a halfway decent campaign, he wouldn't be in this runoff at all. He is a weak candidate who entered the race with low name ID statewide despite having served for six years. John McCain was able to get more than 50% of the vote in Georgia, but Saxby Chambliss was not. Both supported the bailout, McCain in dramatic fashion. Both had Georgians on the ballot as third party candidates. Neither is a favorite of the Georgia republican establishment. Yet, John McCain turned in a 52.2% performance, while Saxby Chambliss drew only 49.8% of the vote-and more than 181K votes fewer than the presidential candidate. Those numbers have to give Chambliss' team serious heartburn. By comparison, Obama drew 47% of the vote in Georgia, while Martin garnered 46.8% and about 87K fewer votes than Obama. There was less drop-off in the democrat's race, and his numbers more closely tracked the preformance of the party's presidential candidate.

A reasonable analysis in that the democratic base in Georgia likes Jim Martin more than the republican base likes Saxby Chambliss, and that could spell trouble for the incumbent on Tuesday, especially since a seriously out-spent Jim Martin has managed to keep most polls in the three point range, within the margin of error, with Chambliss below 50%. Add to that Georgia' reputation for not returning incumbents to the senate, and the unpredictable Palin, and the Tums are definitely on the table at Chambliss central.


Captured by Dell said...

Good and motivating analysis. Keep on keeping us informed.

A bird in the hand said...

You are so right.

You know, you don't have to be a Democratic woman to have a viscerally negative reaction to Palin. You just need a little intelligence and common sense.

Cheers, Colette