HBO’s new smear job on Sarah Palin, “Game Change,” claims Palin is an idiot and a head case, a selfish and self-aggrandizing centralizer of power. As we’ve discussed multiple times, that’s sheer nonsense.
The biggest slander of all, though, is that Palin is responsible for Sen. John McCain (R-AZ)’s 2008 election defeat – or at least the size of the election defeat.
It’s not just false, it’s supremely false. In Pew’s exit poll in 2008, voters who said Palin was a factor in their vote went for McCain by a whopping 56-43 margin. The left focused on the portion of the poll showing that 60 percent of Americans were concerned about Palin’s ability to take over for McCain, but that didn’t impact the vast majority of their votes, as they said. For those who really did vote based on Palin, they voted heavily for McCain.
Sarah Palin made a vast difference in McCain’s favor. Compared to 2004, McCain lost 11 points among white men, according to the Fox News exit poll, but only four points among white women. Obama’s underperformance among white women, evident throughout the fall, may be chalked up, in large part, to the influence of Sarah Palin. She provided a rallying point for women who saw their political agenda in terms larger than abortion. She addressed the question of what it is like to be a working mother in today’s economy and society and resonated with tens of millions of white women who have not responded to the more traditional, and liberal, advocates for their gender.
There is no evidence to suggest that Palin was a real drag on the ticket, contrary to the media’s narrative. The evidence suggests rather that Palin fired up the base. Those who didn’t like Palin didn’t like McCain before his vice presidential selection process wrapped. The difference is that many who didn’t like McCain all that much loved Palin. She didn’t push McCain to victory. But she prevented what could have been one of the great electoral blowouts of all time.