Thursday, September 4, 2008

A Lack of Standing

Nate at FiveThirtyEight weighs in with a prediction about how the polls and the public will respond to Gov. Palin and her performance at the Republican convention.

You can tar-and-feather me with this later if I’m wrong. I will make this disclaimer: I’m not necessarily offering a prediction about how the polls are going to move over the next several days. Almost all conventions produce bounces, and this one probably will too (though whether it comes from Palin’s speech rather than McCain’s, or Fred Thompson’s or Rudy Giuliani’s, we probably won’t be able to tell). But I don’t think the speech will be effective beyond the very near term (the next 3-7 days) at moving votes in McCain’s direction, if it moves them at all. And here’s why:

I think some of you are underestimating the percentage of voters for whom Sarah Palin lacks the standing to make this critique of Barack Obama. To many voters, she is either entirely unknown, or is known as an US Weekly caricature of a woman who eats mooseburgers and has a pregnant daughter. To change someone’s opinion, you have to do one of two things. Either, you have to be a trusted voice of authority, or you have to persuade them. Palin is not a trusted voice of authority — she’s much too new. But neither was this a persuasive speech. It was staccato, insistent, a little corny. It preached to the proverbial choir. It was also, as one of my commentors astutely noted, a speech written by a man and for a man, but delivered by a woman, which produces a certain amount of cognitive dissonance.

In exceedingly plain English, I think there’s a pretty big who the fuck does she think she is? factor. And not just among us Daily Kos reading, merlot-drinking liberals. I think Palin’s speech will be instinctively unappealing to other whole demographics of voters, including particuarly [sic] working-class men (among whom there may be a misogyny factor) and professional post-menopausal women.


Ultimately, it’s not that I don’t think there aren’t people who will find Palin’s performance effective — I just don’t think there’s much overlap between those people and the universe of persuadable voters.

She’s going to be extremely popular with the far-right wing of the G.O.P. All 29% of the electorate.