The Palin effect: Rock-star status

September 10, 2008

Source: Star Tribune
The emergence of Sarah Palin as a political force in the presidential race has left many top Democrats fretting that, just two weeks after their convention ended on a emotional high, Barack Obama’s campaign has suddenly lost its stride.

Obama has responded aggressively this week to Palin’s presence on the Republican ticket, using television ads and campaign rallies to attack her contention that she is a political reformer who will take on the Washington establishment — a role Obama has long claimed as his alone.

But some Democrats are now worried about the perils of Obama’s strategy, saying that his campaign, instead of engaging the Alaska governor, should avoid any move that draws more attention to her and could enhance her appeal among the white, blue-collar voters who remain cool to Obama’s candidacy.

A series of new polls suggest Palin has given a major boost to John McCain’s campaign, exciting the GOP base, winning over white women and erasing Obama’s lead. Concern among Democrats was high enough Tuesday that Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., one of Obama’s strongest supporters, felt it necessary to cite historic polling data to Democratic senators to convince them that post-convention “bounces,” such as the one that has followed last week’s GOP convention, have often faded in past elections.

Still, Democrats expressed anxiety about the new challenge suggested by the recent surveys showing McCain has gained ground among independent voters and women, who could decide the race in states such as Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Virginia.

A new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll released Tuesday, for instance, shows McCain is now winning white women 52 percent to 41 percent after having been virtually tied with Obama in that crucial category just a month ago.

“Whenever you see that kind of movement, you ought to be concerned; you ought to try to address it,” said Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., a strong Obama backer.

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