The Power of Palin

Christine O’Donnell’s success in Delaware came as a huge surprise to both political parties last week, as it demonstrated not only the rising influence of the Tea Party, but Sarah Palin’s as well. Whether people love or hate her, there is no denying that all the bad publicity in the world cannot stop Palin’s rising influence. Considering her environment, Palin is strong-willed. She faces tough obstacles both politically and personally. She is a popular topic in the media and on the Internet. There are the expected outrageous news headlines that deal with her daughter and whatever scandal she is involved in at the moment, whether she is “dancing with the stars” or breaking up with Levi Johnson. She is also constantly mocked for her beliefs on abortion and evolution.

Palin also faces the challenge of being a woman in a man’s world, where both men and women hate her persona of being a “Mama Grizzly.” Her passion for hunting does not fare well with liberals that are more likely to be vegetarians than hunters.

This detachment between her and liberals, as well as within her own party, creates a major dilemma. Karl Rove, former Chief of Staff to former President George W. Bush, has publicly spoken against Palin and her endorsement for O’Donnell.

Rove claimed that O’Donnell says “nutty” things and would not be able to win the race. Since then, O’Donnell has been constantly mentioned in the news, as she and Palin start being associated as the leaders of the rising Tea Party.

Palin recently posted a video, in which she embraces the Tea Party, mentioning that the movement consists of individuals not “inside the beltway professionals.” Although the media may focus on the Tea Party’s extremist views, Palin is on the right track in trying to capture a group of people that have yet to find that figure they are looking for.

Republicans should catch up if they plan on making a comeback in 2012. They also need to find a key leader, whether that is Palin or someone else.

While most people would agree Palin has become a household name, many wonder whether her popularity will transfer onto the polls. Many believe it does not, as only 24 of the 66 percent of those that view her favorably actually intend to vote for her, according to a poll from Public Policy Polling.

Despite all the chaos surrounding her name, she is still a key political player and has become incredibly involved in the 2010 Senate election. She has endorsed more than two dozen candidates; Out of the 36 candidates she has supported, 25 have been successful. With a track record of 69%, she could hardly be considered a plague to prospective senators.

The Washington Post has created an endorsement tracker on their website, jotting down every result. Trying to find a similar tracker for Mike Huckabee appears with no results.

The media’s constant attention toward her only helps her cause. Everyone is keeping a close eye on her, and for obvious reasons — people fear her. They fear her influence, as well as the idea of her gaining more followers  in the midst of rising unemployement and general disillusionment with the current political ecosystem.

Bill Carrol, a radio personality from KFI-AM 640 said it best when explaining O’Donnell’s popularity, which could easily be incorporated to explain Palin’s. Carrol said that many of the people that support her may not agree with 100% of what she says, and opponents would be crazy to believe that they do. However, it is the idea that she is bringing something different to the political table that makes her so distinct.

There are people in America that have not seen change, and they believe that the people in charge have failed. Discontent with the current liberal majority will play a big role in the upcoming midterm elections. And, in line with this logic, Palin will certainly capitalize on this uncertainty in the next presidential election.

Sophia Solis is a fourth-year political science major. She can be reached at sophias@uci.edu.