2010 Elections: The Palin Effect

Did Palin-endorsed mama grizzlies roar?

Some most certainly did, including Pam Bondi (FL–Attorney General), Martha Roby (AL–2), Sandy Adams (FL–24), Michele Bachmann (MN–6), Vicky Hartzler (MO–4), Renee Ellmers (NC–2), Diane Black (TN–6), Susana Martinez (NM–Governor), Mary Fallin (OK–Governor), Nikki Haley (SC–Governor), Beth Chapman (AL–Secretary of State), and Kelly Ayotte (NH–Senate).

Others suffered losses, including Christine O’Donnell in DE, Sharron Angle in NV, Carly Fiorina and Star Parker in CA, Donna Campbell in TX, Jackie Walorski in IN, Janet Contreras in AZ, and Brenna Findley in IA. Of course, the typical role of the left-wing media—and in this election season, the unorthodox voices of some GOP big guns—shouldn’t be ignored, particularly with respect to the O’Donnell and Angle races.

Let’s remind ourselves first and foremost that it’s the candidates themselves—with or without the endorsement of Palin or any other national figure—whose policies, qualifications, and message did or did not hit home with voters on Tuesday.

With that being said, Palin’s 71% endorsement success rate thus far—52 wins out of 73 declared races featuring Palin-endorsed candidates (eight additional races are undecided as of 1:30 p.m. on November 4)—is impressive, especially considering that she embraced a number of underdogs in traditionally blue states. Of particular importance is the fact that eighteen of the twenty candidates backed in Palin’s Take Back the 20 initiative have won their races (one race is undecided as of 1:30 p.m. on November 4). That’s a 90% success rate.

Despite that, Palin herself has said, “And, you know, sometimes it’s a double-edged sword there if my name is connected to anybody.” She’s right, but why?

The “radical” portrait that has been painted of Palin by the left-wing media lives on in many places, particularly in heavily blue states like California and Delaware. I assure you that Palin Derangement Syndrome is alive and well in Manhattan.

Some have argued that even without the “radical” epithet, the fact that Palin is a true conservative—both fiscally and socially—can be a tough sell in heavily blue states. They have opined that her endorsement of Republicans in states where many consider Arnold Schwarzenegger to be conservative, may not have been perceived well by many in those states.

Reality check: Palin’s endorsements aren’t geared toward America’s hard left. They’re meant to rally conservatives, Republicans, and Independents—be they in typically red or blue states. They won’t always yield victory, particularly in America’s deep blue regions, but you just never know. It is noteworthy that her endorsements of Susana Martinez in blue-leaning NM and Kelly Ayotte in blue-leaning NH certainly lent a hand to their successes.

In ordinarily red states and/or districts—and with respect to the GOP primary—there’s no doubt that Palin’s endorsements helped put candidates like Nikki Haley, Rand Paul, and NY–13’s Michael Grimm on the national map, playing a role in their victories.

On another note, Palin has been willing to get behind candidates far from shoo-in status, including the likes of Christine O’Donnell, John Gomez, Sharron Angle, Sean Bielat, John Raese, and Joe Miller. She appears to base her endorsements upon which candidates she believes are standing on principled conservative ground, rather than upon whether or not they’re considered to be “sure winners.” That will undoubtedly yield a results map that features some losses.

Much like her decision to resign from the governorship after facing a slew of bogus, costly ethics charges, Palin’s choice of endorsements doesn’t appear to be based on what will or won’t preserve her political future. Rather, it seems to be based on her principles—like them or not. Regardless, a 71% success rate can only do her political future—if she wants one, that is—a whole lot of good.

When Mediaite, CBS, and NBC—despite some incomplete stats—are all in agreement that Palin had a great night, it just may be one for the books.