Clearly, Sarah Palin was a short-term asset for the McCain campaign. As the polls dramatically demonstrated, she caught fire in a sense and definitely energized the GOP going into the convention, and also helped create a bounce coming out of the convention that had a lot of Democrats worried.
Worry no longer, the Sarah Palin reality is setting in, and amidst Obama's recent rise in the polls and signs in the polls that the Palin bounce is over, there are also signs that Palin herself is contributing to the rise in the polls by Obama.
Five weeks ago, the St. Petersburg Times convened a group of Tampa Bay voters who were undecided about the presidential election. Their strong distrust of Barack Obama suggested it was a group ripe for John McCain to win over.
Not anymore. The group has swung dramatically, if unenthusiastically, toward Democrat Obama. Most of them this week cited the same reason: Sarah Palin.
"The one thing that frightens me more than anything else are the ideologues. We've seen too many," said 80-year-old Air Force veteran Donn Spegal, a lifelong Republican from St. Petersburg, who sees McCain's new running mate as the kind of "wedge issue" social conservative that has made him disenchanted with his party.
"I'm truly offended by Palin,'' said Republican Philinia Lehr, 37, of Largo, a full-time mother with a nursing degree who voted for George Bush in 2004. Like Palin, she has five children and she doesn't buy that the Alaska governor can adequately balance her family and the vice presidency.
No doubt there are pockets of support for Palin where people feel differently, but this sample is notable and relevant coming out of Florida, a key battleground state.
What they're saying about Palin
"The one thing that frightens me more than anything else are the ideologues. We've seen too many."
Donn Spegal, 80, St. Petersburg, Republican Air Force veteran
"I'm truly offended by Palin. You're somebody's mom and what are you going to do, say, 'Excuse me, country, hold on?' "
Philinia Lehr, 37, Largo, Republican full-time mother
"That was almost insulting. Do they think we're really stupid? ... I'm definitely leaning toward the Democratic side now. Sarah Palin scares ... me." "
Rhonda Laris, Temple Terrace, Democrat
"She is Dick Cheney with a dress on."
Bill Chever, 56, St. Petersburg, Independent Air Force veteran
Update: NYT Op-Ed columnist Charles Blow:
In a New York Times/CBS News poll conducted this week 77 percent of Republicans said that they had a favorable opinion of Palin. But when asked what specifically they liked about her, their top five reasons were that she was honest, tough, caring, outspoken and fresh-faced. Sounds like a talk-show host, not a vice president. (By the way, her intelligence was in a three-way tie for eighth place, right behind "I just like her.")
When those Republicans were asked what they liked least about her, they started to sound more like everyone else. Aside from those who said that there was nothing they didn't like, next on the list were: her lack of experience, her record as governor and her lack of foreign-policy experience.
Also, most Republicans think you [John McCain] only picked her to help with the election, not because she is qualified, and a third said that they would be "concerned" if for some reason she actually had to serve as president.
Update II: More evidence that the Palin effect has been reversed:
Obama has recovered his support among white women after they deserted him for Sarah Palin, according to a CBS poll last week which showed that he had turned a 19-point deficit into a two-point lead in just nine days.
That's a stunning turnaround.
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