The far-left John Dickerson makes the following concession:
Unlike Clinton or Palin, there is no clear path to softening the Gingrich image. Clinton’s “listening tour” during her Senate campaign helped change her image. Palin’s folksy approachability on display in her television show has not improved her standing in the polls, but at least it’s a strategy that can be deployed.”
I think the far-left Dickerson is a little confused here because the poll he cited about Clinton was from the spring of 2007, around nineteen months before the 2008 election (we are roughly twenty months from the 2012 election). So what improved Hillary’s numbers was not a “listening tour” but rather her presidential campaign. The best way to respond to the argument advanced by Ramesh Ponnuru is that like Clinton, Governor Palin’s numbers will improve significantly from a presidential campaign.
Whitney already did a great job responding to Ponnuru’s arguments this morning. I’ll only add that Ponnuru errs badly with this assertion:
She would also have the burden of having gone through a bruising primary in which she would have won with a message that turns off millions of upper-middle-class voters.
Ponnuru overlooks how a campaign can turn around someone’s numbers. I suspect that Ponnuru and the gang will argue that because the Governor’s numbers have declined for the last two years, there is no reason to believe that her numbers would significantly improve because of a campaign. That’s precisely the wrong reasoning. For someone like Palin, the only way for her to turn around her numbers is through a campaign.
Ponnuru fails to recognize the frequency with which campaigns spawn new narratives. Campaigns expose “swing voters” to narrative-type stories that are often more important than the types of positions that a candidate holds. If Governor Palin wins the primary as we all hope, it’ll likely be because she ran an excellent campaign. What that means is that so-called “swing voters” will be exposed to stories about how well she ran her campaign. They’ll hear people saying things such as “well if she runs the country in the same way she ran her campaign, this country would be fine under her watch.” Swing voters will be exposed to her executive competence and ability for the first time as she will have operated a $100-$200 million enterprise efficiently and effectively in the event of a victory.
Swing voters will be exposed to stories about how she didn’t rely upon money from lobbyists, bundlers, Wall Street, or corporations to win. They’ll be exposed to stories about how her small-donor army is comprised of military families, families with special-needs children, churchgoers, working-class voters, and sane young libertarians. They’ll hear about how she beat all odds to prevail in a contest without the support of an arrogant and out-of-touch professional political class that most of the country views with disdain regardless of political affiliation. They’ll hear about how she defeated opponents with far deeper pockets than hers. They’ll be exposed to stories of how she has come a long way from the Katie Couric days. They’ll hear about how she’s the first woman in American history to garner such an accomplishment and unlike when John McCain selected her to be his vice-presidential nominee, nobody will be able to seriously argue that she didn’t earn it.
The only reason why Clinton’s numbers ever improved is because her campaign changed the narrative about her. It had nothing to do with her message, her past, or the issues on which she campaigned. If the narratives that I have outlined are the ones that are spawned from her campaign, I’ll bet her favorability will recover with the very people that Ponnuru is so concerned about.
So what else is going on today? Here are a couple more nuggets to chew on tonight:
-She tweeted about the freaks at Westboro “church.”
-Liberal Nate Silver:
If Palin had made Huckabee’s Kenya gaffe, people would be talking about it as a disqualifying event.
-Powerline slams Andrew Halcro without naming him.