Monday, September 22, 2008

Has Palin Peaked?

It was bound to happen. Over the past few weeks, the media has gone into high gear dissecting the life and times of Sarah Palin, a relative unknown on the national political stage. But the magazine cover shoots, the tired diatribes about women with families in politics and the seemingly endless media hysteria over all things Palin couldn’t last long. The media has the attention span of a six-year-old with A.D.D. on red bull. All they needed was Britney Spears to go bald again – and Palin coverage would immediately subside.

A clear turning point was on September 11th. Just prior to that, the lipstick-pig foolishness had reached obnoxious proportions. Republicans had been itching for an opportunity to present any statement by Barack Obama as a sexist jab against Palin. Accuse Obama of sexism? Check.
But it was short-lived. The recognition of September 11th brought a well-needed sobering look at the issues and a pseudo-ceasefire between McCain and Obama. Early the next day, however, Obama seized the opportunity and came after McCain with some hard-hitting attacks on McCain’s “honor” that brought the McCain v. Obama battle back to the frontlines. But this time Palin took a backseat as Obama judiciously zero-ed his attacks in on McCain.

The worsening economy coverage was the icing on Barack Obama’s cake. He was no longer playing defense against GOP attacks, was able to focus back on the issues and take advantage of McCain’s misstatements on the economy. Since then, McCain’s lead has retreated and stories about Palin’s tanning bed have been replaced by the AIG bailout and banking deregulation. Talk about a topic change.

The zeal that Palin first brought to the race as a female veep candidate continued to lose its’ edge as she came off as scripted in her interviews and failed to wow people with her knowledge on the issues. The American people began to see that all that glistened certainly was not gold and Palin fatigue began to set in.

Don’t get it twisted, massive crowds still flock to Sarah Palin’s events and she certainly has brought much-needed enthusiasm to the McCain ticket, but not with the considerable amount of fanfare that existed a mere few weeks ago. According to a CBS News/New York Times poll, Palin's favorability rating is at 40 percent, 4 points down from last week. Her unfavorable rating is at 30 percent, rising 8 points in a week. Suburban and independent women are now in reach for the McCain campaign, but so far the campaign has failed to attract new women voters in critical numbers.

There is still plenty of time for the pendulum to swing back in Palin’s direction and for her to regain her footing. The Vice Presidential debate with Joe Biden on Oct. 2 may provide that opportunity for Palin, as the expectations for her to succeed against Biden are embarrassingly low. On the other hand, if her performance is anything like her last few interviews, which were heavy on spewing the codewords “maverick,” “reform” and “ruffle some feathers,” a tad bit on substance with a dash of lies, she could lose the opportunity to prove herself as capable altogether and it could be costly for the McCain campaign. No pressure, right?

For now, it appears that Sarah Palin is that nickel in your pocket that has lost its shine. She still holds value to the McCain campaign but her charm and appeal have depreciated.

Cross-posted on Huff Post's Off the Bus

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