I’ve been trying to figure out why Palin was selected. I’ve now read enough I have a theory, and I’d like to share.
I’ve said for quite some time that the GOP is supported by three legs – the corporatists, the nativists, and the dominionists. I’ve also said that in selection of a candidate the first rule is that if any of the three legs vetoes the candidate, the candidate is gone. The second is that among those left, a candidate that is moderately acceptable to more than one leg will beat one who is wildly acceptable to one leg but barely so for the other two.
It’s come to light that the dominionists were hammering most of the McCain preferences. Lieberman, Crist, Ridge, and more were all unacceptable. I think, reading between the lines, that some of those I didn’t mention might have been borderline were it not for the fact that McCain is only borderline tolerable with that leg himself. That leg demanded reassurance, and so had a tighter tolerance and consequently a much heavier veto hand.
At the same time, the dominionists (and I would suspect the other two legs as well) were evaluating candidates based upon their preferences. It appears that two candidates came to the fore in this: Palin, and Pawlenty.
So everyone the other two legs are tossing up are getting vetoed, and there are two candidates the dominionists like, and then comes last Thursday. McCain knew it was going to be rough and he would need to break Obama’s momentum. That is why he’d already announced his selection would be Friday. But after that speech… oh, my. He knew he needed a buzz.
It’s come to light that Palin was selected, at earliest, Thursday evening. And at bottom, that’s why. Of the very short list of people NOT being vetoed by one leg, she was the one who could interrupt the news cycle. The hope that she’d steal some Hillary candidates was a bonus, but I suspect that all the pros knew that was a forelorn hope. On the other hand, there are a lot of non-professionals on the McCain team. So that, too, may have been part of the process.
To go from past to future, I do not think it will help. I’ve been saying in various places that the Republicans could not win the presidency this year – been saying it for about a year and a half now. It’s the fundamentals. There are too many things wrong which are laid at the feet of the GOP – either caused by, or under the “You’re in charge it’s your responsibility” factor. I do not think Palin will change that, though I do want to point out a final reason the party listened to the dominionist leg.
In the end, the winner is the person/party that gets the most votes. It’s become known as the GOTV (Get Out The Vote) or ground game factor. In the GOP, the majority of the GOTV is done by volunteers, who for the past 20 years have been predominately driven by the dominionists. Picking that leg’s preference was a price to drive turnout. It will lock in the base (provided she doesn’t withdraw – a separate issue). The question is whether it’ll be enough. I argue it is not, of course, but that’s the gamble McCain made.
Place your bets.