There's been a lot of talk about what yesterday meant for the Tea Party movement and specifically, how much Sarah Palin's endorsements - which she handed out like candy - had to do with the wins and losses. How much of it was anti-incumbent rage? Anti-establishment rage? Anti-big government rage? Melissa Clouthier at Liberty Pundits writes:
I don’t buy the whole anti-incumbent thing. I think that’s a simple simon answer to a more complex question. It’s also a way for the Democrats and Republicans to not take difficult looks at themselves and the position they’ve put themselves in with voters.
I agree. Right now, people resent government as a whole, on both sides of the aisle, and it's a tough spot for establishment candidates in both parties. There were incumbents who did just fine. Lincoln in Arkansas, despite the rage of the left and a $10 million campaign against her from the unions, managed to eke out a win. Senators who actually listened to their constituencies - a la Jim DeMint - won easily.
But the question everyone's asking is this: What role did Palin play? I heard someone joke that in this round, she just endorsed anyone with two X chromosomes. I've been pretty open with my criticism of her, as well as her establishment endorsements. The honest truth is that I don't dislike her as much as many of you think I do - I think she serves a purpose in the movement, and I don't want to diminish the value of her voice or fundraising power. When she speaks, people listen - for better or worse.
That said, when we have the power of Palin and the Tea Party behind the same candidate, they will do well (and yes, I'm consciously separating the two). When Palin decides to endorse an establishment candidate, the vote will be split, and we will likely lose. Case in point: Carly Fiorina. I wouldn't necessarily make the argument that a Palin endorsement would have won the race for DeVore, but I'm confident that it gave many a pass to vote against their conscience, in addition to deflating the base momentum that Chuck DeVore had built.
Sometimes, it's best for the big guns to stay far, far away from races.
We also proved that we don't need a Palin endorsement to win. Tea Party Express, FreedomWorks, and Club For Growth stepped in for Angle, and she easily won the Nevada Senate GOP primary, jumping from single digits to a win in just over a month. I'd be willing to wager that a Palin endorsement for Sue Lowden - you know, since she was the pragmatic choice - would have been a significant ding for Angle.
All that to say that Palin is significant because she represents a large portion of the movement. In many cases, she still has enough pull with the base to make them rethink their candidate selection. She's also proven that she knows how to pick a winner. It's just a matter of whether or not her devotion lies to paying back political favors or standing up for the grassroots - there's no denying that she's got power.
That is, unless you're a lefty. And then you can do nothing but analyze her boobs. Feminist rage: engage in 3...2...1...
Oh right, she's a conservative. Carry on, Boston Herald.