Sarah Palin: A High Risk/Reward Pick for McCain

ImageContrary to cable news network reports, Sarah Palin’s name has been floating around for weeks as a dark horse running mate possibility. The upside is that she brings youth, gender, and conservative credentials to the ticket. The downside is that this pick was based on a political calculation that if it backfires will doom his campaign.

In all honesty McCain did not have many options, so he went with the shock value pick. Palin is a popular pro-life pro-gun Republican in Alaska, but she has only been a governor for two years. To put this into context, she has even less experience than Barack Obama. The upside of picking a 44 year old is that she brings youth and freshness to a ticket that quite frankly has a tendency to look and act stale.

I wonder how the McCain camp is going to balance their primary argument that Obama lacks experience with a running mate that has no national experience. Another possible negative to picking someone so young is that it highlights McCain’s age. I don’t think that Democrats should be mocking this pick, but it does reek of desperation on the part of McCain. I do think that McCain made this pick as play for more media coverage, and I am not sure if will work.

I’m also not sure that this pick will work. If they are looking to court women or exploit any perceived Obama/Clinton divide, they need to understand that women don’t vote based strictly on gender. However,she is a choice that will rally the base, a hard core down the line conservative. McCain has had a problem energizing this base, and Palin should get them excited.

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You can count me in the camp that thought Rob Portman would be a better pick, but the advantage to Palin is that she has no connection to the Bush administration. McCain now gets a clean start. Instead of picking Mitt Romney, who, to put it politely, he has a stormy relationship with. McCain has gone with a fresh face. S

She won’t likely bring any states to McCain, but this pick is symbolic. The reward here is that she could allow McCain to redefine his campaign. The risk is that she actually costs McCain votes with the voters who won’t support a woman, and those who could view the selection as overly contrived. Personally, I am reserving judgment until we see Palin on the campaign trail.

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