Wednesday, November 03, 2010

How Did Sarah Do?

First things first!

Q. How did the Sarah Palin for President campaign do last night?

A. Not bad!!

There's the messy little problem on the home front, of course, where the Wicked Witch returned from her primary defeat to defeat Ms. Palin's favored one in the general election. And there are the losses in the West Virginia, Delaware and Nevada Senate races. Any number of so-called "establishment Republicans" are lining up to blame those defeats on Ms. Palin.

But the fact is, Sue Lowden wasn't going to beat Harry Reid in Nevada. No one was going to beat Harry Reid in Nevada. He ran a nearly perfect campaign.

In West Virginia, Ms. Palin at least had the right message, which was: "don't send your good governor to Washington, keep him here in West Virginia. Send a Republican to Washington and it's a two-fer." It didn't work (obviously), but neither did it leave behind any ill will or bad karma.

And Delaware wasn't so much Ms. Palin's fault as it was a complete failure of the vaunted "GOP Establishment" to scare up 33,000 votes for Rep. Mike Castle in the Republican primary. You have to be really, really bad at your work to not produce 33,000 votes in a primary for a candidate who had served as governor and as an at-large Congressman for the better part of two decades. That Ms. Palin defeated them with Tweets and Facebook says a lot more about them than it does about her.

So the only real blemish is the Alaska thing and, truth be told, no one really cares about Alaska, because no one really knows anything about Alaska. It's like a foreign country to the political world.

What the political world does care about is early caucus and primary states. Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina are the "big three" in that category and it was in the "big three" that Ms. Palin played her hand best.

When it was politically difficult to do so, she endorsed Iowa's once and future governor Terry Branstad in the primary. She did so against the wishes of many prominent Iowa conservative activists, who thought Branstad was insufficiently devoted to the cause. At the end of the general election campaign, every wannabe 2012 presidential candidate was fulsome in his praise of the great wisdom and magnificence of Mr. Branstad. Branstad owes them nothing. He owes Sarah Palin big-time. She flattened his conservative opposition.

Ditto New Hampshire, where Palin interceded on behalf of state Attorney General Kelly Ayotte and squashed her Tea Party primary challenger. Ayotte went on to win (by a wide margin) the US Senate seat now held by Judd Gregg.

Ditto South Carolina, where Palin catapulted Nikki Haley from single digit primary obscurity into the governor's mansion in South Carolina. In all three of the key early states, Ms. Palin now commands the allegiance of the most important GOP political figure in those states.

Not bad indeed.

In the meantime, a few more Republicans woke up this morning to the dulcet tones (in their minds's ear) of "Hail to the Chief." Among them, Rick Perry of Texas! And Haley Barbour of Mississippi (who, as head of the RGA, helped a lot of his new-best-friend governors-elect win their elections). And don't forget Mitch Daniels and Tim Pawlenty, who look at the field and say: "Haley Barbour? Why not me?"

They're all men. Ms. Palin is the only woman. And the "Republican Establishment" in Washington is openly saying they want her dead. If you wanted to script the movie for Sarah Palin, it doesn't start much better than that.