The recent victory of Deb Fisher in the Nebraska Senate Republican primary race is being described as the result of the “golden touch” of Sarah Palin. Just this morning, “Mark” posted a comment on my article yesterday, suggesting that this was a
“Waste of a (sic) article…didn’t pan out so good now that she got the nomination.”
Perhaps my article wasn’t clear. Perhaps my reference to having tea with Joe Miller was not sufficiently clear.
Let me be clear. Winning the Republican PRIMARY in Nebraska, is not the same thing as winning the senate race in the general election in Nebraska. Ask Joe Miller and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska. Ask Sharon Angle and Harry Reid of Nevada. Ask Christine O’Donnell
and Chris Coons of Delaware. Each is a perfect example of an endorsement by Sarah Palin during the primary that helped her candidate win the Republican nomination in their state, only to later lose in the general election. The Murkowski election is a perfect example of the potential damage of a Palin endorsement during the primary season. Murkowski was the incumbent Republican Senator from Alaska. It was presumed she would get the Republican nomination in 2010, as she had been a fairly popular Republican Senator, in a fairly Republican state. Lisa Murkowski had to beat Palin’s candidate, Joe Miller, in an historical write-in victory that had not occurred in over 50 years. Because voter turn out in the primary races is typically very low, excitement generated by an endorsement from Sarah Palin during the primary may cause a disproportionate number of voters to turn out in a primary election that would not be reflected in the popularity of that candidate in the general election. If Sarah Palin endorses a candidate in the primary who is so radically conservative that Republican voters are scared away in the general election, Palin is necessarily helping the Independent or Democratic candidates, and hurting the more moderately conservative candidates. Chris Coons of Deleware and Harry Reid of Nevada probably have Palin to thank for their election in 2010.
In addition to the Senate primary in Nebraska, the Senate primary in Indiana was directly affected by Palin’s endorsement of Senator Lugar’s opponent. The Senate is currently comprised of 51 Democrats and 47 Republicans. Of course the Republicans would very much like to take control of the Senate. The Sarah Palin endorsement of Mourdock instead of Senator Lugar, voted one of the 10 best Senators by Time Magazine, has resulted in the defeat of Senator Lugar, in the primary. Imagine the shock of Republicans in Indiana when they woke up to learn that Senator Lugar had lost the primary in their state. They probably thought Senator Lugar, the longest serving Senator in Indiana’s history, and is the most senior Republican member of the Senate, would be a shoe-in for winning the primary. They probably assumed that no common sense conservative would oppose his nomination. Sarah Palin is a conservative, but there is substantial debate about whether she has any “common sense.”
The Sarah Palin endorsement of Deb Fisher before the Nebraska primary, instead of the Republican favorites Bruning or Stenburg, has resulted in victory of Deb Fisher . The critical consideration for conservatives is whether Mourdock, in Indiana, and Fisher in Nebraska, can win in the general election. If Sarah Palin were truly committed to promotion of conservative control of the Senate she would have endorsed the conservative candidates that were most likely to win in the general election. The elections of the Senators from Delaware, Nevada, Nebraska, and Indiana, would have been enough to change the majority of Senators in Congress, by 2012, from Democrats to Republicans. Thus while an endorsement by Palin may be the “touch” of gold in the primary race,that same endorsement appears to be the kiss of death in the general election, for the Republican party in each state, and for the national Republican Party’s control of the Senate. Perhaps it would be more cost effective for Democrats to simply pay Sarah Palin to endorse an unknown, and unpopular candidate in the primary, and simply save the cost of an expensive campaign in the general election.