Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Emerging Trends

Today will be a brief post because I have a mound of reading ahead of me. Today, two trends have emerged in the wake of the conventions that will be very important to watch. The first is that at campaign events at which both McCain and Palin appeared, the campaign drew thousands of people; on the other hand, where McCain previously appeared alone, he only brought people out in the hundreds. There is no question that the addition of Palin has caused a lot of excitement in the republican party. What will be really interesting to see is if McCain can continue to pull in such large crowds once he and Palin separate to campaign on their own. If not, I think this will be a telling sign regarding the actual level of support for McCain.   

The second trend is that Palin’s name is being mentioned with Obama’s in the media almost as often as McCain’s name is being so mentioned. This is certainly a result of the media attention Palin received prior to and during the convention. The key for Palin is whether she can convert all of this excitement and momentum surrounding her nomination into voter turnout. Two months is a long time to ride this initial burst of support, but barring some huge gaff, it is hard to see how she doesn’t turn at least some of her current support into higher republican turnout in November.   

The bright side for the democrats regarding Palin’s success is that it is being driven in large part by her attacks on and derisiveness towards Obama. The result has been an energizing of support on the left for Obama. While this is true, it is clear that this is a glass-half-full reading of the current situation. The Obama campaign has to find a way to respond to Palin’s attacks that simultaneously rebut what she is saying and defuse her media impact. Clearly this is a tall order, but if they are able to strike that balance, the Palin star will fade quite quickly. 

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