The Sarah factor

Normally, candidate endorsements by other politicians aren’t big news. After all, politicians and retired pols endorse candidates all the time, and rarely does it make a big difference in the outcome of an election.

Heck, an endorsement by a president of the United States — be he Barack Obama or George W. Bush — may even be more of a drag on a campaign than a boost.

But Sarah Palin is different, at least when it comes to Republican primary elections in 2010.

“That she is leaving a major footprint on the 2010 midterm elections is not disputed,” Jeff Zeleny of The New York Times wrote Saturday. “But less clear is whether the endorsements are rooted in an effort to amplify her image or to create a political strategy for the future.”

Daily Sentinel readers may have noted the story about 3rd Congressional District candidate Bob McConnell receiving Palin’s endorsement on her Facebook page this week in his Republican primary election battle against Scott Tipton. It’s newsworthy in part because — love her or loathe her — people are interested in what Palin does. But beyond that, Palin’s endorsements are having an impact.

Consider this: In Tuesday’s Republican four-way primary election for Georgia governor, former Secretary of State Karen Handel was in second place last week, trailing front-runner Ken Oxendine by 8 percentage points. Friday she received Palin’s Facebook endorsement, and a poll conducted Sunday showed her leading Oxendine by 7 points, according to the Wall Street Journal. Because neither one received 50 percent of Tuesday’s vote, they’ll have a runoff election Aug. 10.

In May, Palin endorsed Nikki Haley, a state lawmaker, in the South Carolina GOP gubernatorial race. The endorsement helped catapult Haley to the top of a crowded GOP field, and she won the Republican nomination in a runoff primary election last month.

McConnell may not receive as big a boost from his Palin endorsement as either Haley or Handel did, but it’s clear a lot of conservatives pay attention to what the former GOP vice-presidential candidate has to say about races this year.

Whatever her future in politics, Palin is definitely having an impact this year. Even Palin’s harshest critics can’t “refudiate” — that’s Palin-speak for “refute” or “repudiate” — that fact.


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