When you do a Google search of Sarah Palin, the first three suggested searches are “Sarah Palin twitter,” “Sarah Palin refudiate” and “Sarah Palin breast implants.”
I don’t know what this means about our habits on the Internet, but I do know what the next suggested search term should be: “Sarah Palin: Political Power Player.”
With Republican Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s concession to conservative challenger Joe Miller late last evening, the impending November political landscape is pitting conservative candidates against the GOP establishment.
From Nikki Haley to Rand Paul, from Sharron Angle to Allen West, these conservative Republicans are seen as the shining beacon of smaller government in November. Without the help of grassroots conservatism, their primary victories might not have been assured and there is no one who is better than Sarah Palin in getting the “hockey moms” and “hockey dads” riled up then her.
So, one might ask themselves: with so much riding on November, does the girl from Wasilla hold the keys to Congress?
Let’s start with Joe Miller. In July, a poll in Alaska had Lisa Murkowski holding a 32 point lead (62%-30%). Coupled with the fact that the Murkowski name has been synonymous with Alaskan politics for over 40 years, Miller’s chances looked slim.
With Palin’s endorsement of Miller coming in June, it looked like it wasn’t going to be enough. But with the help of the Tea Party Express’s $600,000 cash infusion, Palin’s robo-call and former First Dude Todd Palin’s e-mail plea late in the race, Miller gained traction in the final weeks.
Palin took to Twitter with pleas of prayer for Miller’s victory, too. Without question, with Palin’s ability to appear mainstream and project an image of being an ordinary American, the race brought out many voters who were just sick and tired of “inside the Beltway” politics that Murkowski simply could not shake.
And then there was Nikki Haley. The South Carolina state representative emerged from a crowded field of GOP contenders, including a sitting U.S. congressman and the lieutenant governor, to win the gubernatorial nomination. That’s a pretty steep hill to climb, but Haley navigated through the many character attacks (two separate claims of having an extra-marital affair) and questions of her 1996 conversion to Christianity to roll to victory.
Palin’s influence was all over this race, too. Palin went to South Carolina in May to share the stage and endorse Haley and appear in a TV ad. Shortly after the endorsement, the polls exploded in Haley’s favor, catapulting her to 30% of the vote while the other three held in the teens. Quite a dramatic change since she was running fourth in the same poll in March. Palin Power?
It is important to remember that Palin doesn’t discriminate against establishment Republicans when picking who she endorses. For instance, Carly Fiorina received Palin’s endorsement late in the California primary race. For Fiorina, who wasn’t the Tea Party backed candidate, it was a huge boost to receive Palin’s endorsement, especially since many people didn’t realize or were misinformed over Fiorina’s conservative credentials.
Thanks to Palin, Fiorina garnered enough of the conservative vote to win the primary and now has the general race with the leftist Barbara Boxer polling inside the margin of error. In the very liberal state of California, that is some pull from the Mama Grizzly.
Out of all the Republican political players, Palin has to be the queen of the ball right now. Endorsements from Mike Huckabees, Mitt Romneys, and Newt Gingrichs of the world just don’t garner the same media buzz or scrutiny the way Palin’s endorsements do.
There are still many currently held Democratic seats in Congress up for grabs in November. If Palin, the Political Power Player, gets involved in those races, it could get ugly real quick for the Pelosi & Reid gang.