Bear Claw
I have always been somewhat ambivalent about the power of political endorsements. They may serve as a useful signal among political elites about where political loyalties reside, and they can potentially provide lesser known candidates with desperately needed credibility. But like a lot of political scientists, I am skeptical about their ability to ultimately drive voters to pull the lever for specific individuals.
So, what about Gov. Sarah Palin’s endorsement of former New Hampshire Attorney General Kelly Ayotte’s bid for the U.S. Senate? I can’t say that it comes as a big surprise to me. The move fits with Palin’s desire to build a network of up-and-coming female Republican leaders, and Ayotte is sufficiently viable as a candidate that the move doesn’t represent a huge risk for Palin.
As for how it might affect the race, I guess it could give Ayotte some much-needed conservative cred among primary voters, but it’s probably more problematic for Ovide Lamontagne, who has worked hard to position himself as the true movement conservative in the primary race. A Palin endorsement of Lamontagne over Ayotte certainly would have spiced things up a bit.
But Palin’s blessing is the proverbial double-edged sword. If she were to insert herself more fully into the race, her polarizing nature could potentially hurt Ayotte with moderates and independents in the general election. Also, I can think of few things more likely to mobilize Democrats to turn out for Congressman Paul Hodes in November, who will gladly hammer away at this on a daily basis from now until Election Day.
In the end, the Palin endorsement is likely to quietly fade away by November, as Ayotte positions herself more centrally for the general election. I’ve written previously about the limitations of Palin as a political force in New Hampshire. I will say that I felt bad watching Ayotte (who ostensibly wanted this endorsement) on television last night having to say that she too is a proud Mama Grizzly. She seemed to take to the task with good humor and a relatively straight face.
Note:  Back posting on Thursday. -Dean


Posted On: 07-20-2010 21:49:33 by Mattruns
Dean-It has always been hard to have your cake and eat it to. Ayotte is the clear party establishment debate on that score....with all the DC money and obligations that come with it. Now the big mama grizzly comes along and gives you a great big bear hug....the self made star of the tea party circuit. I don't think Sarah's endorsement moves the existing conservative base away from Ovide, as we are not your usual electorate, and the more moderate swing independents are not a natural Palin fit. So where does that leave Ayotte's current base other than confused. With Sarah's move we would expect to see a more aggressive campaign tone from Hodes, Binnie and Lamontagne at the very least. The result of all this will play out on Sept 14th, but I think she (Sarah) brought more harm than good to Ayotte....with not much risk to herself. I'm all for Ovide so that's just OK with me......I'm glad she didn't hug him because she carries a sharp double edge sword when it comes to NH voters.

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