Other recent evidence reinforces my point. Also in light of Palin's resignation, ReligionDispatches offered a great post-election analysis, picked up by Nate Silver, on how Sarah Palin affected John McCain and the GOP ticket. Money quote:
A look at other national data reveals that on balance, John McCain’s selection of Sarah Palin hurt him more than it helped across most segments of the American electorate. The data also reveals a lesson that is often forgotten among political operatives: voters want more than a candidate who holds certain positions or values; the character, tone, and competency of candidates also matter. Voters can and do distinguish between someone who shares their values and someone who would serve the public well.Interestingly, while many religious (other than white evangelicals) voters identified with Palin's values, they did not consider voting for her. The reason:
Part of the explanation certainly has to be her many now-famous stumbles, public gaffes, and lack of knowledge about key policies. But there is another important explanation. There is mounting evidence that the American electorate is turning away from so-called “values voter” wedge politics that Palin represented ....While I don't necessarily agree that we have moved past wedge politics, though I wish it so, the part about how religious voters are more concerned with the "common good" is provocative. To which the authors conclude:
In our post-election survey, an overwhelming majority (73%) of American voters agreed that “people of faith should advocate for policies that protect the interests of all and promote the common good” compared to only 22% who preferred pursuing “policies that protect their values and way of life.” By a nearly 2-to-1 margin, those favoring a common good politics said Palin’s addition made them less likely to support the GOP ticket (27% less likely vs. 15% more likely).
But the numbers reveal her limitations as a national political figure, and her serious liabilities among virtually every religious and demographic group outside of the GOP base. Moreover, the numbers reveal that voters across the political spectrum are looking not only for candidates who share their values, but for candidates who can ably serve the common good. (emphasis mine)
On a related note, in light of these numbers, it isn't surprising to me that Republican gubernatorial nominee, Bob McDonnell, has a Palin problem: she is wildly popular among the conservative base while simultaneously unpopular with moderate and independent voters. To campaign with her or to not campaign with her?