Archive for Sunday, September 28, 2008

Palin gives McCain an extra boost in Kansas

September 28, 2008

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Election 2008

In-depth coverage of the candidates and the issues, all leading up to the Aug. 5 primary and the Nov. 4 general election.

— Prominent Democrats don't expect Barack Obama to carry Kansas in the presidential race, but they hope he'll do relatively well in this reliably Republican state, winning 40 percent or more of the vote.

Meanwhile, Kansas Republicans expect John McCain to enjoy a typically large Republican margin in the Nov. 4 election, thanks to running mate Sarah Palin.

Some Republicans acknowledge many conservatives weren't excited about McCain, the Arizona senator but believe his putting the Alaska governor on the ticket energized that core constituency.

"They weren't enthusiastic, but they were going to vote for him," said Sen. Sam Brownback. "With Palin, he's picked up their enthusiasm so that the passion level, the giving levels, people going out and working for the ticket, has skyrocketed."

'Significantly better'

Still, Democrats expect Obama, the Illinois senator, to capture a higher percentage of the vote than Democrats normally do in Kansas. That's based on the enthusiasm his candidacy generated in February, when Democrats had presidential caucuses in Kansas, and many of the Democrats' 50 sites were overwhelmed with participants.

"I think it's likely that he'll run significantly better than John Kerry or Al Gore did," said Dan Watkins, a Lawrence attorney who's a senior Kansas adviser to the Obama campaign.

No Democrat has carried Kansas in a presidential election since Lyndon Johnson in 1964. Registered Republicans outnumber registered Democrats by almost 300,000; 45 percent of the state's registered voters are affiliated with the GOP, and unaffiliated voters are a bigger bloc than Democrats.

The last Democratic nominee to crack 40 percent of the vote was Michael Dukakis in 1988. Since Johnson's nationwide landslide in 1964, the average for Democrats has been 36 percent. Gore in 2000 and Kerry in 2004 managed about 37 percent.

Some Democrats believe Obama will fare better because of the economy and voters' dissatisfaction with outgoing President Bush and the war in Iraq.

They also believe that Obama will bring new voters out, particularly young adults who haven't previously shown much interest in politics. In February, party officials expected between 10,000 and 11,000 Kansans to participate in their caucuses; the turnout was about 33,000.

"We had his volunteers mobilized," said Larry Gates, the state Democratic Party's chairman. "They're not people we would have out walking the streets if it weren't for his candidacy."

GOP turmoil

Democrats also saw a potential boost for Obama from turmoil within the Republican Party.

Early on, McCain did pick up support from both the Kansas GOP's moderate and conservative wings. Brownback, a conservative, endorsed McCain after abandoning his own bid for the presidency. Steve Cloud, a Lenexa businessman who's served on the Republican National Committee, was an early moderate McCain backer.

But that support seemed pallid in February, when the Kansas GOP conducted its caucuses. Many Kansas conservatives embraced former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, and he won 60 percent of the vote, to less than 24 percent for McCain.

State Sen. Tim Huelskamp, a Fowler conservative who endorsed Huckabee, said McCain wasn't "trustworthy" on issues such as taxes, immigration and campaign finance. Then, Huelskamp noted, McCain picked Palin.

"For most of us, this was the biggest political decision of his life, and I think he got this right," Huelskamp said. "She has just energized the party."

It's not just Palin's credentials on social issues that's excited conservatives. They argue she'll attract votes from independent voters and even moderate Democrats enthusiastic about the possibility of electing the nation's first female vice president.

Some activists in both parties believe conservatives always were destined to support McCain, whatever their enthusiasm.

Cloud said the possibility of a moderate Republican or even a non-Republican like Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman was "the gorilla under the covers" for conservatives. But, he said, even before the Palin choice, they were becoming pragmatic.

"The question then arose, 'Do I want McCain or do I want Barack Obama?"' Cloud said. "Then all of a sudden, people started to say, 'Well, OK."'

Gates said of Palin: "I do think that she may have brought some conservatives back to the table, but they were always coming. It was just a matter of time. They just had to find their reason to support McCain."

Kansas Republican Party Chairman Kris Kobach believes the most recent poll is a good indication of how McCain will fare in November.

"Palin was the final nail in Obama's Kansas coffin," Kobach said. "He was never going to win Kansas. Now, he doesn't even have a prayer."

Comments

exhawktown 6 years, 8 months ago

I'm so sick of hearing that Palin is "unintelligent" and "unqualified" and now, all of a sudden, "dishonest." Spare me. She's geniune and does what she thinks is best for her state.Further, Presidential candidate Obama does not hang out with communists and terrorists, nor does he "worship" with people screaming "*** Damn America" at Sunday morning service.Oh wait, that's right, he does. And his VP pick, Biden, is a genius too. He's not only an expert on U.S. history, he also apparently thinks television has been an integral part of it, for a VERY long time. I wonder if President Polk watched coverage of the Boston Tea Party on the internet. . . . .

Centerville 6 years, 8 months ago

Too bad Obama doesn't have an interesting governor on his side. That would help.

jenner 6 years, 8 months ago

Kropotkin (Anonymous) says: "The more voters see of Palin, the more they'll realize she's unfit to serve as president. Like Bush, she's incurious, conniving and thoroughly dishonest. He at least had the benefit of a decent education, but she stumbled through five campus changes in six years before she managed to get a lightweight degree. If McCain didn't have one foot in the grave and the other on a banana peel, this wouldn't be nearly this scary."THANK YOU! Why don't more republicans realize this? Are they just as clueless as Palin is?

tangential_reasoners_anonymous 6 years, 8 months ago

"[Kansas Republicans] weren't enthusiastic, but they were going to vote for [McCain]," said Sen. Sam Brownback. "With Palin, he's picked up their enthusiasm so that the passion level, the giving levels, people going out and working for the ticket, has skyrocketed."Guess we all now know what it takes for Kansas Republicans to get it up.

uncleandyt 6 years, 8 months ago

Way to go Kansas! Just look, don't listen. If you can't avoid listening, don't be fooled by incoherent word piles. Palin is a genius. Such as...

1029 6 years, 8 months ago

This article was actually written over a week ago and was supposed to be in last Sunday's paper. However, the original title of "Clueless Republicans energized by Clueless Candidate" didn't go over too well with some of the media bigwigs who were afraid of exposing their liberal bias. Right now, John Hanna is traveling through rural Kansas researching another article that is to be titled "Palin's Selection Gives Undereducated Kansans Hope that Someday They Too Can be Selected as Republican VP candidates".

beatrice 6 years, 8 months ago

Despite the fact that she isn't the sharpest spear in the igloo? Why isn't she availble for questions other than a couple of select interviews? Message to John McCain -- quit holding back your selection! If she is gifted enough to be VP, she should be gifted enough to answer questions. Free Sarah! The senior senator from Arizona should have creamed the rookie senator from Illinois in the recent debate on foreign policy -- and he didn't. McCain should lose the election by a landslide, instead of the much smaller margin he will actually lose by. Obama for President!

Frank Smith 6 years, 8 months ago

The more voters see of Palin, the more they'll realize she's unfit to serve as president. Like Bush, she's incurious, conniving and thoroughly dishonest. He at least had the benefit of a decent education, but she stumbled through five campus changes in six years before she managed to get a lightweight degree. If McCain didn't have one foot in the grave and the other on a banana peel, this wouldn't be nearly this scary.

bad_dog 6 years, 8 months ago

Don't you just love the title to this article?Make sure you don't get between them if they campaign in Kansas!!

bad_dog 6 years, 8 months ago

"Isn't it refreshing to continue to hear nothing but insults and personel (sic)attacks...Kropoopkin only throws prsonal (sic) insults, while Bea really said nothing at all."- madmikeIn support of his post condemning liberals for insults, madmike proffers Exhibit A; "Kropoopkin".Exhibit B further underscores his charge of liberals leveling personal attacks by submitting: "...while Bea really said nothing at all."Closing argument consists of: "if you are for McCain, according to the eletist (sic) snobs here, you, of course must be ineducated (sic) and a bumpkin. No wonder everyone else in the Stare (?) of Kansas despised Lawrence, the little blue Dien Bien Phu of the left here.Wow, that's some compelling stuff...exhawk, President Polk couldn't have watched it on the internet as he wasn't yet President and Gore hadn't invented it yet. I'll bet you already knew that though, didn't you? ;-)

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