Opinion: McCain’s ‘Stop Sarah Palin’ strategy working like a charm, polls show


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Fresh evidence tonight that the brilliant McCain campaign strategy to lock away the political effervescence of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin to stoke overconfidence among the nation’s Democrats and set the stage for yet another improbable Arizona comeback is working exactly as planned.

For more than 10 days now the 44-year-old mother of five, who upset the ancient Republican establishment in Alaska two years ago by driving herself to campaign events and talking to pretty much any group that would have her, has been cut off from normal Americans who watched her by the many millions give a spunky speech at the Republican National Convention and then overnight turned her name into seven of the top 10 search terms on Google.


But John McCain’s strategists had a better idea than letting Palin be Palin. They set her up with TV reporters born to ask questions until they found some she couldn’t answer.

No doubt the campaign’s idea was to show the hockey mom was pretty much like any other American who couldn’t recall Marbury vs. Madison if their cellphone depended on it.

Wait, come to think of it, the other vice presidential candidate didn’t cite a famous Supreme Court case by name either. But never mind. We don’t want to confuse the conventional Palin storyline.

So the pressure is even greater for Thursday night’s sole vice presidential debate between Palin and Democrat Joe Biden, the senator from somewhere who wears his hair down pretty much all the time.

The Washington Post published a new poll this morning showing that six out of 10 Americans now see Palin’s two years as governor of the largest state as insufficient experience to become president.

Almost half the voters polled expressed discomfort with McCain’s age and, of those, 85% found Palin too inexperienced to take over. A third of those polled now say they’re less likely to vote for McCain because of Palin. It’s almost like a dream, it’s working so well. A previous Times poll showed little Palin effect on female voters.

Our colleague Mark Silva over at the Swamp reports on a separate Pew Research Center poll that also shows this Hanoi strategy unfolding perfectly. Confidence in Palin’s ability to lead has plummeted from 52% in early September before the imprisonment of Palin to 37% now.


It’s not all good news though. The Pew poll finds 70% view Palin as down-to-earth, vs. only 55% for the gaffey guy who’s been a yabbering senator with congressional perqs since Palin was eight years old.

Also discouraging for the McCain camp must be the finding of a new Marist Poll, described by the Swamp’s same Silva. It reveals that while a plurality (45%) expect Biden to perform better in the debate and a majority (61%) expect him to show a greater understanding of issues, compared to Palin’s 36% and 28%, nearly two out of three expect Palin to come across as more likeable, compared to Biden’s measly 23% anticipated likeability.

To facilitate the latest McCain plunge into oblivion by Nov. 4, the hockey mom is clearly going to have to do something outrageous during the debate to drive down her likeability. Maybe talk innocently about hairplugs. Or let slip something about her home state being 279 times larger than, say, Delaware.

-- Andrew Malcolm

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