Friday, September 12, 2008

The Power of Palin and Petroleum

What are we to make of reports of a Gallup Poll suggesting that Republican prospects in congressional elections are improving?

Of course, this is a single poll, and there is plenty of reason to suppose that it may be an outlier. However, even if it overestimates Republican prospects, it still is notable that the gap is at the very least closing. At no time in the last two years has this seemed possible prior to the election.

This summer, I have received political intelligence reports from all over the country. Those reports consistently surmised that even if John McCain won the presidency, it would only be because he had managed to distance himself from the Republican brand, and the Republicans would still be trounced at every other level, with losses only mitigated by the reality of gerrymandered districts.

Does the nomination of Sarah Palin account for the remarkable change? Certainly, her nomination has energized numerous segments of the voting public in the Republicans favor, but it would not seem that her presence on the ticket alone can fully explain the remarkable increase in Republican prospects. Of course, the current "do nothing Congress" has been highly unpopular ever since the beginning of the term. Approval ratings have been far below even the historically low ratings of the President. Then, in the face of extraordinary rises in energy prices, Nancy Pelosi prevented votes on an energy bill and sent Congress home without doing anything.

People noticed. Prices are for the time being falling, but the memory still lingers that a Democratic Congress did nothing on the most important day to day pocketbook issue facing voters.

That lingering memory, combined with the enthusiasm surrounding Gov. Palin, is proving poisonous for Democrats.


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