Political Physics: The Palin Theorem

A blogumn by Monique King-Viehland

Clear-headed political analysis while everyone else is yelling and screaming

The Palin Factor – It’s Not All About Gender

In recent history, the support of evangelical Christian voters has been more important to the Republican Party than ever.  In truth, without the far right, George Bush would likely have lost the 2000 and 2004 elections.  These days, it’s hard for a Republican to get elected without strongly opposing abortion, same-sex marriage and gun control.

In contrast, lets take a look at the Republican Nominee for President John McCain.  In 1999, he was quoted in the San Francisco Chronicle as arguing against overturning Roe v. Wade, because he believed that it would lead to an epidemic of illegal abortions. In 2005, McCain opposed a federal gay-marriage ban.  And in 2006, the Almanac of American Politics, which tracks and ranks votes on legislation as liberal or conservative, indicated that McCain voted “liberal” 53% of the time.

There are right wing Christian conservatives who would argue that calling John McCain a “conservative” is a real stretch.  But If McCain wanted to secure the votes from the majority of his own party, he needed to win over his right wing colleagues.

Enter Sarah Palin.

Yes, John McCain and his advisers strategically thought that choosing a woman Vice Presidential candidate could lure some of those disgruntled, 18 million Hilary supporters to their side.  But I would argue that this is not the only (or main) reason he chose Sarah Palin as his Vice President.

Sarah Palin opposes abortion, marriage equality and gun control – the trifecta for Christian conservatives.  Palin, a member of “Feminists for Life,” a group that opposes abortion even in cases of rape or incest, and a self-professed “average hockey mom,” was hailed as Ronald Reagan reincarnated by delegates at the Republican National Convention after her acceptance speech.

So, McCain took a gamble and it appears to be working, his approval rating among Christian conservatives has gone up nearly 10 points in the past three weeks.  And his decision is also yielding some gender bi-product – in the most recent New York Times/CBS News poll, 17% of women voters who said they had voted for Hilary Clinton in the primaries say they now support John McCain.

Will that get John McCain elected as our next President of the United States?

I hope not – Go Obama!

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