Wednesday, December 3, 2008

How Much Did Palin Actually Help Chambliss?

As just about everyone in the United States knows by now, Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) won his Senate race, defeating the Democrats' hope for a 60-seat filibuster-proof supermajority. And one of the repeated themes of the analysis is the Chambliss won so easily thanks to the help of one Sarah Palin, Governor of Alaska. Chambliss himself said :

"Sarah Palin came in on the last day, did a fly-around and, man, she was dynamite. We packed the houses everywhere we went. And it really did allow us to peak and get our base fired up," Chambliss said.

"I mean, I can't overstate the impact she had down here," he continued. "When she walks in a room, folks just explode. And they really did pack the house everywhere we went. She's a dynamic lady, a great administrator, and I think she's got a great future in the Republican Party."

But it doesn't seem like she was the make-or-break. Obviously she helped Chambliss get out the Conservative Christian base, but something about the numbers doesn't show a massive surge. Chambliss won last night's race by a hearty 14%. However, on November 4, he only led by three.

Now, Georgia is one of the redder states in the Union, so did Palin really push him over the top? Instead, it looks like it wasn't the person who was there, but it was the person who wasn't there that made a difference. It appears that since Obama wasn't on the ballot, many Democrats didn't see the purpose in going out to vote:

Martin appeared to suffer mightily from a lack of African-American turnout, which dropped from 30 percent of early votes four weeks ago to around 20 percent in the runoff.

For Republicans and strategists that think that the GOP can take the Congress back anytime soon cannot underestimate the celebrity and gravity of the President-Elect. He can push people out to vote that wouldn't do so anyway, and can even rope in some Independents and Republicans to boot. He was probably good for 8% of the difference on November 4. The Democrats have a strong down-ticket leader now. College kids and the like are less likely to pay attention to other officeseekers, just as long as they have the valuable "D" next to their name.

So is Sarah Palin the savior of the GOP? Obviously she got at least some of the vote out for Senator Chambliss. However, she was insignificant compared to President-Elect Obama.

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