Friday, October 29, 2010

Ladies and Gentlemen: sharpen your Palin pencils!

It's nigh time to see how the old girl does with her many endorsements this coming Tuesday.  It promises to be a mixed bag, with some high-profile wins and some equally-high-profile losses, all with big implications for her brand and political future. How will she do??

After much (frankly, a surprising amount of) searching, I finally located a handy-dandy (and hopefully up-to-date) list of Palin endorsees on the "Organize4Palin" website -- some 80 of them across the country.  The great majority of them are House races, but the national media -- "lamestream" or otherwise -- will no doubt focus on the bigger-ticket races in the Senate and, to a lesser degree, some of the gubernatorial contests.

For U.S. Senate, she has endorsed:

Miller (AK)
Fiorina (CA)
McCain (AZ)
Paul (KY)
Angle (NV)
Ayotte (NH)
O'Donnell (DE)
Rubio (FL)
Raese (WV)
Toomey (PA)
Boozman (AR)

For Governor, she has endorsed:

Haley (SC)
Branstad (IA)
Emmer (MN)
Perry (TX)
Martinez (NM)
Scott (FL)
Otter (ID)

According to polling data from The New York Times, Palin seems to be well-placed with her picks for Governor.  Five of her seven choices look like they will win easily.  Only Emmer in Minnesota and Scott in Florida are considered toss-ups.  Emmer is in a three-way race and is only given about a 1-in-10 chance of prevailing. Scott, on the other hand, is neck-and-neck with his rival, Sink, who is given the slightest of edges at the moment.  All in all, not so bad for Team Sarah.

A very different and much more complicated picture emerges from the Senate races.  Of her eleven endorsements, only four -- McCain, Paul, Ayotte and Boozman -- are either leaning or solidly Republican right now.  There are those who might shift the race in Kentucky from leaning Republican to "toss-up", but Paul seems to have survived some recent negative campaign ads.  Only one endorsee -- O'Donnell -- appears destined to lose (and lose big). All the other six campaigns are considered toss-ups.  The NYT site still shows Alaska leaning Republican, but, given Miller's plunging poll numbers, the Republican in question will likely be standing Sen. Lisa Murkowski -- much to Palin's chagrin.  Given the home-state turf and her well-publicized rivalry with Murkowski, a Miller loss will hurt.  Another likely loss that is still officially in the toss-up column is Fiorina in California.  She has managed to stay within striking distance but has consistently trailed Boxer and the NYT site gives her only a 7% chance of victory.  Rubio in Florida is almost assured victory as long as Meek resists rising pressure to drop out and throw his support to Crist.  If that happens, Sarah can probably kiss that race goodbye, too.  Another potential loss could be West Virgina where the Democrat, Manchin is given a 75% chance of winning.

The remaining two races in Pennsylvania and Nevada promise to be real barn-burners.  Toomey is currently given the edge in PA, which is good news for Palin, but Sestak is a proven fighter, having confounded the pundits and party establishment by defeating Republican-turned-Democrat Specter in the primary.  Angle is also given the edge in her race against Harry Reid in Nevada.  An Angle victory would be huge for Palin given the symbolism of knocking out the current Senate Majority Leader...but it will be this very same symbolism that will ensure the Democrats throw everything but the kitchen sink at her in these last remaining days. They don't want to lose this battle -- especially to a Tea Partier.

So...lots to watch.  If the toss-up races in the Senate break Republican, Sarah Palin is poised to have a very good night indeed.  Much, however, remains uncertain.  What is certain is that it's time to break out the popcorn, sharpen your pencils and play along at home.

[Image source.]