Thursday, November 18, 2010

Sarah Palin: The Straw Lady?

I've asked this before and I'm going to expound on it now: What exactly does Sarah Palin have to do with the Tea Party? One day Santelli is talking about dumping derivatives in a big Chicago Tea Party and a few months later Sarah Palin is out there anointing people as Tea Party Candidates. What does one have to do with the other? I buy this whole conservative resentment at all things Two-Party-related since economically Congress tends to be representing left and lefter ever since 2002 or so. But I never really bought that a running mate of John McCain would be the catalyst for turning that resentment into election results. But there's her face plastered all over the Tea Party movement. And the Tea Party did pretty well for itself. But then I noticed something: none of the candidates Palin heavily campaigned for actually won. Angle, O'Donnell, Fiorina, and it looks like even Miller lost. Her campaigning-for-others track record is worse than Obama's.

I get that she has done her darndest to co-opt the Tea Party and gain some momentum for herself. She's talking Presidential campaign and is even getting a bit belligerent as of late. But her victory lap looks more like a trail of tears in an otherwise popular movement. I'm still not sure exactly what the Tea Party is, but judging from the election results, it's not Sarah Palin. At best she's an embodiment of what's wrong with the Tea Party instead of what's right about it.

13 comments:

Cousin Pat from Georgia said...

First: the issues I refuse to concede...

The only reason it appears that Congress is trending "left and lefter" for any amount of time after 1994 is that "left" has been artificially associated with "bad" by the GOTP marketing machine as the goalposts keep moving to the right.

The only reason it appears the Tea Party did "well" in this election is because voting demographics favoring right-wing voters were more pronounced, and demographics favoring left-wing voters were subdued. The Republicans won a lot of seats because they market effectively, therefore the Tea Party won some seats because they are a part of the Republican Party.

The schism isn't even ideological, it is rhetorical. Republicans get to pretend that their unrestrained economic and foreign policies "worked" from 2000 to 2006 while the Tea Party gets to pretend that millions of Americans who disagree with them about policy are really plotting at this moment to take their money, guns, children, God and apple pie away from them on our way to mandated Kenyan anti-colonialist homosexual sharia law.

Now, what does Sarah Palin have to do with the Tea Party? Even if it began with a nod to libertarian notions and American foundational ideals, the worm turned very quickly into the militantly reality-denial wing of the Republican Party.

That should pretty much sum up Sarah Palin's involvement. If you've got a group of people already primed to ignore contrary facts as part of some greater conspiracy against you, she is ready to be thier Warrior-Goddess, you betcha.

Dante said...

"The only reason it appears the Tea Party did "well" in this election is because voting demographics favoring right-wing voters were more pronounced, and demographics favoring left-wing voters were subdued."

Yeah, but that sort of thinking is chicken-and-egg at best. Why were the left-wing demographics subdued? They stayed home for a reason. What's equally true but far more ignored is the number of right wing voters that stayed home in 2008. The right wing got voters out of their homes this year and to the polls. That's just as important as getting them to vote for you. A vote that would've otherwise voted for you but stayed at home is a vote against you even if it's not a vote for the other candidate.

Cousin Pat from Georgia said...

Turnout was higher than the last mid-term election, but far less than the Presidential election. 40 million people did not vote. While some of it may have been liberals/progressives staying home as a protest, I always think far more people stay home because they just don't think to vote or don't think their vote matters in this process.

I mean, of all folks, I've said plenty about why even center-left voters would be angry at the current crop of Democrats, so I absolutely understand why voters might stay home. That will play far less of a factor in 2012 though, as I think my voting demographics will be much more interested when Obama is on the ticket than just their usual same-old congressional officers.

However, according to the folks at the Beyond the Ballot conference, the right wing voting demographics were much more likely to vote in 2010, and independents who identified with GOTP marketing were more likely to vote. Of course, those demogaphics change as soon as the election is over.

Mavric said...

in the Senate, TP candidats won half their races. But in the House, TP candidates only won 47 out of 130 or a little better than 36%. In a year that republicans had all the momentum, most of their losses came from tea party candidates who beat out mainstream candidates, but were too fringe for your average moderate to consider. In 2012, I think a strong showing of tea party candidates could very well be disasterous for the GOP when the Democratic voter base actually shows up to the polls.

Cousin Pat from Georgia said...

More on Her Victimized Popularity Highness

Mavric said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mavric said...

One more point: tea party candidat Joe Miller has all but lost to write in candidate Lisa Murkowski. When was the last time a national candidate won a write in election? While the tea party movement does get some real winners onto the national stage, it does so at approximately a ratio of two losses for every win. They are pushing the Republican party too far right for mainstream America's taste.

Cousin Pat from Georgia said...

And yet, they helped the GOP win in this election. Narrative and marketing are very important in winning elections, and those are the items at which the GOP is good, the Tea Party excels, and Democrats are terrible.

Which is also why a hyperactive self-promoter like Sarah Palin has become a Tea Party leader.

Dante said...

You can't simply look at percentages to see how successful the Tea Party was. A lot of Tea Party candidates were running races no Republican should've won. Angle should've had absolutely no shot as Reid. O'Donnell lost by less than Castle trailed in polling before the primaries. Candidates skewing far right were giving a fight where more moderate Republicans are historically blown out. I'm not so sure what to think about the Tea Party but at the same time I wouldn't count on it as a birthright that the Democratic voters who stayed home this year but showed up in 2008 will automatically be back in 2012 unless President Obama can find a way to become Campaign Obama again.

The write-in victory was great though, wasn't it? And that was on Palin's home turf. She's the Jimmy carter of the Republican Party: elevated higher the more she fails.

Mavric said...

@paT did the tea party help propel the Republicans to victory or did they push them past the point of credibility and start doing more harm than good? No they didn't competely undo the gains their message helped create, but the message I get from election results is that the same rhetoric won't be nearly as effective in 2 years and will once again push Republican candidates as a whole further right than the country is comfortable with.

@ Dante: I think Mark Twain had something to say about statistics, so I conceed the point that numbers are only as accurate as those who wield them. From my perspective, tht Tea Party was much like a shotgun. They wiped out strong Republican candidates in primaries that were probably easy wins, then lost to their Democratic challengers. Likewise, they brought the thunder and outright won or kept close races that nobody expected in the general election. My opinion is that while they shook things up this election season, they didn't particularly change the direction that the country was going to vote and may have even blunted the "schellacking." 5 tea party losses to 4 candidates equates to a continued democratic majority in the senate.

Cousin Pat from Georgia said...

I wouldn't count on it as a birthright that the Democratic voters who stayed home this year but showed up in 2008 will automatically be back in 2012 unless President Obama can find a way to become Campaign Obama again.

I absolutely agree with this.

Angle should've had absolutely no shot as Reid.

But the point here is that a more realistic GOP candidate would have defeated Reid going away. O'Donnell cost the GOP their shot at Delaware. Those are two big Senate seats to leave on the table.

Dante said...

"But the point here is that a more realistic GOP candidate would have defeated Reid going away. O'Donnell cost the GOP their shot at Delaware. Those are two big Senate seats to leave on the table."

But that's not historically what has happened. How did Reid's last challenger do? Leaving seats on the table would be trying the exact same thing again and expecting different results.

Cousin Pat from Georgia said...

You were going to be able to throw history out in both the Nevada and Deleware Senate seats. It was a GOP year, they had owned the narrative for at least 16 months, and the Democrats had no national brand strength. Usually safe seats were in contention, and money couldn't be spread around.

In Deleware, the front runner was your GOP establishment, experience candidate. He was defeated by O'Donnell in the primary and handed a double digit win to the Democrat.

In Nevada, Reid was more vulnerable than he had been in a decade. Terrible numbers in the state, no outside fundraising apparatus, no help from safe seats. The fact that Angle came so close is a testament to how many GOP and independent voters held their nose and voted for her anyway.

Also, her involvement garnered votes for Reid. If the GOP candidate had been slightly more palatable, and not as scary, half of Reid's supporters would have stayed home.