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Sarah Palin's Tuesday Picks Come Out on Top, Mostly

4 years ago
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Sarah Palin's busy primary endorsement season came to a mostly winning end Tuesday, most notably with victories by two of her "mama grizzlies": Christine O'Donnell, who prevailed in Delaware's GOP Senate primary, and Kelly Ayotte, who narrowly defeated Ovide Lamontagne in the New Hampshire GOP race for Senate.

By Facebook, via Twitter, the former Alaska governor and 2008 vice presidential candidate has handed out endorsements, well, right and righter this election season. She stood up for U.S. Sen. John McCain, who put her in the spotlight as his running mate. And she spurned home state incumbent Sen. Lisa Murkowski, even after giving her a $5,000 donation, to support the ultimate upstart winner Joe Miller in Alaska.

In two other races, former New Hampshire attorney general Kelly Ayotte (Palin's pick) held a one-point lead over Ovide Lamontagne (a Tea Party favorite who cast himself as a "true" conservative) in the Granite State with 85 percent of the vote counted Wednesday morning. But Brian Murphy, Palin's long-shot candidate in Maryland's gubernatorial primary, lost in a landslide to former Republican Gov. Robert Ehrlich, who will once again face off against Martin O'Malley.

By the numbers in competitive primaries, Palin is 7-2 for Senate endorsements; 7-6 for House endorsements; and 6-3 in endorsements of gubernatorial candidates.

Support from heavy hitters like Palin (along with fellow conservative kingmaker Sen. Jim DeMint) means not just money from political action committees (hey, sometimes Palin's endorsements don't even include that!). They can bring attention and endorsements from others -- this year, it's the Tea Party crowd -- and cash from loyal followers of the endorser.

The question now is what will Palin's support mean in the Nov. 2 general election? GOP voters have embraced anti-government rhetoric from candidates such as O'Donnell, Miller and others. But to a broader electorate, some of that rhetoric - and the way it's been framed - may not be so appealing.

Daniel Smith, a professor and director of the political campaigning program at the University of Florida, said how Palin's chosen candidates perform in the general election will be based on regional factors.

"O'Donnell's going to be hurting," he said. "It certainly has caused some consternation within the Republican Party establishment. The Republican Party has some soul searching to do. The kind of candidates Sarah Palin has endorsed has played well in certain regions of the country, but not with the national party."

Smith predicted Palin's endorsement will make little difference in many November contests.

"Sarah Palin's negatives are still higher than her positives," he said. "She does poorly among all Democrats and she does poorly among Independent-minded voters as well."

Here's a breakdown of Palin's primary season plays:

The easy calls: Palin got easy Senate wins by endorsing insiders like McCain in Arizona, Roy Blunt in Missouri, Rob Portman in Ohio and Carly Fiorina in California. Gubernatorial no-brainers: Texas Gov. Rick Perry, former Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad, Susana Martinez in New Mexico and Tom Emmer in Minnesota. Did she even make a difference in these races? Probably not. Plus, Palin endorsed 13 candidates with no primary opposition and 18 candidates after their primaries.

The long-shot wins: Tuesday's big name here is O'Donnell. But Palin also endorsed Tuesday winners Michael Grimm in New York's 13th congressional district and Sean Duffy (from MTV's "The Real World: Boston"!) for the Wisconsin seat that David Obey is retiring from. And don't forget Rand Paul in Kentucky's Senate race, Nikki Haley in the South Carolina governor's race and certainly Joe Miller in Alaska's Senate race. Then there's Paul Gosar in Arizona's 1st District and John Koster in Washington's 2nd.

The bad bets: Maryland's Murphy wasn't the only long-shot endorsee who lost a primary race. Consider Clint Didier in Washington's Senate race, or Idaho's Ward Vaughn, Arkansas' Celine Bledsoe, Mississippi's Angela McGlowan and Colorado's Bob McConnell in House races. Then there's Karen Handel in Georgia's governor's race.

The Palin edge? Did a Palin endorsement push O'Donnell over the top? Maybe, maybe not. She likely made a huge difference in Miller's Alaska race against Murkowski. And Haley certainly benefited from Palin's strong defense against adultery allegations.

What about the general? So, O'Donnell scored Tuesday's win -- but with only about 60,000 people voting in the Delaware primary. The question is, does Palin's backing help her in November? It seems unlikely. Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight (and now of the New York Times) has the Senate seat leaning Democratic. Palin endorsed Sharron Angle, who won a competitive Nevada primary, but does her role make a difference in the attempt to unseat Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid? Sure, Fiorina was the easy-money candidate in California's GOP primary, but will Palin mean much in the race against incumbent Sen. Barbara Boxer in a state that often swings Democratic?

Palin certainly appeals to the Republican base, many of the Tea Party activists and some independent voters. She has targeted Democrats who voted for President Obama's health care reform package and has donated money to many of their GOP opponents.

In some primary races, her endorsement provided a needed push, but in many it made no difference.

Palin ended Tuesday evening calling for GOP unity -- on Twitter, of course: "Primary debate is over;time 4unity is now bc time 4choosing is near. Attitudes of unsuccessful campaigns r contagious,make'em worth catching"

Nov. 2 will tell whether her efforts have been truly successful.

Click play below to listen to Sarah Palin discuss the primary results and Karl Rove's comments about Christine O'Donnell's electability:

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Obama is in trouble big time. The November elections will be a referendum. The NJ, VA and MA elections were early indicators of what's in store for his administration. I know some liberals who are extremely knowledgable and astute, and there has been nary a peep out of any of them that indicates anything Obama has done or is doing is productive. Sarah Palin keeps on with her speaking engagements along with another oft-maligned TV personality, Glenn Beck, and they're rallying up a lot of people. They're both hated, but keep trucking on. Palin likely won't run for president, she's too busy doing something she probably prefers doing, promoting the Conservative base.

September 17 2010 at 6:24 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Sue and Phil

This whole bit about Sarah Palin being stupid really gets to me. She is dumb like a fox. "Oh but she quit the governorship of Alaska" you say. Oh yeah, then went out and made her and her family a couple a million bucks with her book and speaking tours, got herself top name recognition everywhere. The libs hate her and she could care less. Yeah, I wish I was dumb like her!!

September 16 2010 at 4:23 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Carl Rove is a fool to badmouth Christine O'Donnell after her victory. Does we want to wait another 6 years for another chance?

September 16 2010 at 1:59 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

yet again, I sign on to my aol page to see Palin face plastered everywhere. STOP IT!!!!!!!!

September 16 2010 at 1:45 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Why are we getting this sarah palin jammed down our throat.....would anybody REALLY want her to be in charge of your life. She is just plain awful when she is interviewed live....thats why you won't see her on a live show unless everything is well scripted before hand.Lets hear her in a live debate...with nothing

September 16 2010 at 11:49 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

It's still amazing to me that AOL continues to be so Left Wing when comments run nearly 5 to 1 against their Liberal views and featured articles. America is waking up to the fact that our government is not "For the People". For years our rubber stamped representatives have mostly been for themselves and feel that they are extra special and untouchable because of the office they hold. Incumbants are just now beginning to realize that they are actually being held accountable for votes that they have cast in opposition to the feelings of their constituants. The health care bill is a primary example which was pushed through the Senate by trickery which the Senate majority leader promised on more than one occassion that he wouldn't do. The primary winners may or may not fare well in the general election but one thing is for sure, whoever is elected will stop to consider their future votes and the reprocussions that they may have on their future carrer in politics. Thank you America for finally waking up to the affect that our government has on our daily lives.

September 16 2010 at 10:41 AM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply

I truly believe that you are way off base concerning the Sarah Palin effect. She is a bigger drawing card than any political figure out there including the President. People come from all over to hear her and they don't have to be paid or bussed in to fill the seats. They come on their on volition. O'Donnell was a non entity up until Sarah approved of her and had no chance of beating the perrenial incumbent. The incumbent lost due to Sarah's indorsement, O'Donnell's likeability and grasp of the issues in New Hamshire, and the voting record of the Senator. The voting record of the candidates, the state of the economy and unemployment in each district and state along with the ideas of how to best improve the problems will ultimately get the votes from the people of the area. Right now there is noone in the spectrum of political influence that can energize voters than Sarah. Endorsements from high profile heavy hitters from both parties have had little or no effect as who people vote for other than Sarah's endorsements. Yes you can say that her endorsements have not always paid off for certain candidates, but what you can't say with any accuracy is that Sarah's endorsement hurt a candidates run for office. I believe that any candidate running for the GOP or running as a independent or embrassing the Tea Party platform would love to have Sarah behind them than any other political figure.

September 16 2010 at 10:41 AM Report abuse +5 rate up rate down Reply

Has anyone considered the attorneys general of twenty (20) states who have taken obamma care to court for being unconstitional? You should follow that one. If just one provision of that bill is ruled unconstutional, the whole bill is out the window. Stay tuned. A judge has already ruled to take it to trial. This should make it to the supreme court. Pay attention, people.

September 16 2010 at 10:27 AM Report abuse +7 rate up rate down Reply

Doesn't everyone just hate this Obamacare? It would be great to go back to the previous eight years before Obamacare when health insurance premiums were increasing close to 15% per year. Yes, that is what we need.

September 16 2010 at 10:26 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

The T E A Party is growing on a daily basis. What is different is most of us are unpaid volunteers who want our country back. We are not the paid rabble rousers of the lib group. Even if we do not win in this election we will only become more determined to win in 2012.

September 16 2010 at 10:23 AM Report abuse +10 rate up rate down Reply

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