Will Wilson is a former GOVERNING correspondent.E-mail: email@example.com
by Will Wilson
I'd like to venture a couple thoughts about what Sarah Palin's selection might indicate about what we have to expect for the next two months of presidential campaigning.
First and most obvious, the campaigns will focus on women voters. With the Palin pick, I don't think McCain is simply trying to peel away disgruntled Hillary supporters. He wouldn't mind their support, of course; in fact, Carly Fiorina penned an article for today's Denver Post that I'm sure many "Hillary voters" will read as they wait for flights out of Colorado this morning. But I do not think the McCain camp thinks that women--Clinton supporters or othewise--will vote for McCain-Palin just because a woman is on the ticket.
Palin is very different from Clinton. She describes herself as a "hockey mom," is a lifetime member of the NRA, and is pro-life. I think this is more of a play for undecided women, women who didn't necessarily support Clinton. Palin's story might be appealing to, dare I say, women from states like Colorado and Ohio.
If anything, Barack Obama might spend more effort than McCain garnering support from HRC backers, as Geraldine Ferraro recently suggested and as was evidenced at the Democratic convention. While Obama is busy unifying the Democratic voters, McCain might be able to gather a larger share of the undecided women who might otherwise have ended up voting for Obama.
Second, if energy and energy-related economic and security questions weren't already the signature issues of this campaign, I think they will be the rest of the way. Just two days ago, Palin signed a bill to allow a $27 billion pipeline to carry natural gas from the Arctic to the U.S. Palin has also supported drilling ANWR; perhaps not coincidentally, McCain has suggested he'd be "glad to accept new information," (though he remains opposed to drilling ANWR at this moment as far as I'm aware).
Third, sound ethics and bi-partisan reform will permeate DC come January! Well, maybe not. But at the very least ethics and reform will get some good lip service between now and then. Palin put herself on the political map by resigning as ethics commissioner in protest over the lack of ethics of some Alaskan Republican leaders. McCain has made something of a name for himself trying to improve Washington--including McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform (whatever you think of the merits of the law). Obama, of course, has made his whole campaign about change and the rollout of VP nominee Biden highlighted that he has never lived in DC.
Finally, the tickets' respective strengths and weaknesses all sort of cancel each other out. Each has a relative outsider, a relative insider, a long resume, a short resume, someone with strong foreign policy credentials, someone without such strong FoPo creds, an old white male, and someone who isn't an old white male. Which means we'll be hearing more about actual policy platforms and less about the personalities, right?
A friend writes, "I just had a conversation with a few people [at work] about how the tickets actually even out the identity politics arguments and that a return to the issues and policy is the only clear path through the campaign. And then we all felt naive."
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