For the past year, conservative support for McCain has been lukewarm at best. Then came Sarah Palin. Republicans praised her stances on family values and overstated her meager executive experience. Their support since her debut has been blindly unwavering, with evangelicals claiming that her 17 year old daughter's unwed pregnancy is "humanizing". It is doubtful that her supporters would be so full of grace if one the Democratic candidates were in the same position.
Palin established herself as a bulldog-with-lipstick by delivering an acerbic speech on Wednesday which was heavily laced with jabs at the Democratic ticket. Conservatives greeted the speech with loud acclaim and excitement; however, the undertone of relief was palpable as she proved her viability to her rightwing base. Her speech served as a cattle call and escalated the bitter attacks on Barack Obama.
The question is: Will rallying the base come at a cost?
Conventional wisdom states that in order for the Republicans to win in November, they need to capture a significant portion of the moderate and independent voting blocs. And, although her speech will reinvigorate the Republican faithful, encouraging them to donate more money and increase their hands-on involvement in the campaign, Palin is simply preaching to the choir.
Republicans missed an opportunity to court moderate and independent voters by having Palin deliver a highly polarizing speech. As of now, it appears that Republicans are gambling that energizing their base will net them more votes than appealing to centrists.
It is unclear whether Republicans will continue pursuing this strategy as November approaches knowing how easily they can change their talking points. Check out this Daily Show clip to see what I'm talking about: