Adam Graham
Understanding Palin power
By Adam Graham
November 11, 2008

In a CBS Poll after the 1992 election, 12% of Republicans supported Dan Quayle for President. In 1996, no one clamored for Jack Kemp to run in 2000. After the 2000 campaign, Joe Lieberman's 2004 effort bombed worse than Howard the Duck. After 2004, John Edwards trailed badly to Hillary Clinton in the earliest Democratic Primary polls, and fell by the wayside leading up to the Obama-Clinton battle.

History has not been kind to losing Vice-Presidential candidates. They are often cast aside as failed marketing gimmicks that didn't pan out. This is what makes a recent Rasmussen Reports poll remarkable. A national unknown two and a half months ago, Palin leads in a Republican Primary Trial heat by a 64-13% margin, and has a 91% favorable rating among Republicans, including a 65% very favorable rating.

The numbers are astounding. Dole in 1996, Bush in 2000, and Giuliani in 2008 enjoyed numbers in the mid-40s, but I've never seen anyone poll more than 50%, let alone more than 60% in a pre-primary trial heat. These numbers often came before people actually knew who the candidates were. Palin's numbers come after a period in which we've learned nearly everything there is to know about her.

Now, given the fickleness of public opinion, her support will certainly cool a little bit over the coming years, and she may not even run for President. But at this moment, she's the most popular Republican in America.


First, Sarah Palin is the embodiment of grassroots conservatism. She's a gun owner, a small businesswoman, a mother, and she's pro-life to the core. As governor, she's known for strictly adhering to the State's Constitution even if it's not to her political advantage. She's not a partisan in the sense of focusing on scoring political points on the other side, but let there be no doubt, she is a conservative.

Second, though, has a lot to do with the people in power in the Republican Party. From 1994-2006, Republicans enjoyed amazing levels of power across the nation, yet how were conservatives? Many Republicans, once elected, became one of them (the Government) and forgot about us (the People.) Their focus begins to shift from doing the people's business to pleasing Teacher's Unions and big industries. The people were forgotten. Conservative principles were forgotten. Big government conservatism existed as means to politicians securing their power.

I've often wished that somebody would get these self-seeking Republican politicians out of office. Yet, the efforts have often been met with heartbreak. In Montana, I twice supported Rob Natelson in the Republican Primary for Governor, only to see him lose in the primary both times. Last year, I voted for a conservative running against my pork barreling Congressman who won re-nomination with 80+% of the vote.

Sarah Palin did it. A former small town Mayor took down the Governor of her state, who had also been a U.S. Senator for four terms. She went into office and reduced spending when the state was in surplus. She took the governor's luxury jet and placed it on Ebay. Sarah Palin not only represents a picture of conservatism, but she did what most conservatives have been dreaming of doing for more than a decade: Throw a bum out.

The Palin juggernaut is ultimately a rebuke to today's political class. Grassroots conservatives are tired of them because they are greedy, self-serving, and only care about power. They have become government apparatchiks. They do have great experience, which they tout repeatedly. They're only problem is that it's all in selling themselves to the highest bidder. Their claims to conservative values are entirely self-serving alliances of convenience.

Whether or not she runs for President in 2012, if the GOP wants victory, it'd better produce more political leaders like Sarah Palin.

© Adam Graham


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Adam Graham

Adam Graham was Montana State Coordinator for the Alan Keyes campaign in 2000, and in 2004 was a candidate for the Republican nomination for the Idaho State House... (more)

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