Top of the Ticket

Political commentary from Andrew Malcolm

« Previous Post | Top of the Ticket Home | Next Post »

McCain's 'Stop Sarah Palin' strategy working like a charm, polls show

Fresh evidence tonight that the brilliant McCain campaign strategy to lock away the political effervescence of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin to stoke overconfidence among the nation's Democrats and set the stage for yet another improbable Arizona comeback is working exactly as planned.

For more than 10 days now the 44-year-old mother of five, who upset the ancient Republican establishment in Alaska two years ago by driving herself to campaign events and talking to pretty much any group that would hAlaska Governor and Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin now slipping in the pollsave her, has been cut off from normal Americans who watched her by the many millions give a spunky speech at the Republican National Convention and then overnight turned her name into seven of the top 10 search terms on Google.

But John McCain's strategists had a better idea than letting Palin be Palin. They set her up with TV reporters born to ask questions until they found some she couldn't answer.

No doubt the campaign's idea was to show the hockey mom was pretty much like any other American who couldn't recall Marbury vs. Madison if their cellphone depended on it.

Wait, come to think of it, the other vice presidential candidate didn't cite a famous Supreme Court case by name either. But never mind. We don't want to confuse the conventional Palin storyline.

So the pressure is even greater for Thursday night's sole vice presidential debate between Palin and Democrat Joe Biden, the senator from somewhere who wears his hair down pretty much all the time.

The Washington Post published a new poll this morning showing that six out of 10 Americans now see Palin's two years as governor of the largest state as insufficient experience to become president.

Almost half the voters polled expressed discomfort with McCain's age and, of those, 85% found Palin too inexperienced to take over. A third of those polled now say they're less likely to vote for McCain because of Palin. It's almost like a dream, it's working so well. A previous Times poll showed little Palin effect on female voters.

Our colleague Mark Silva over at the Swamp reports on a separate Pew Research Center poll that also shows this Hanoi strategy unfolding perfectly. Confidence in Palin's ability to lead has plummeted from 52% in early September before the imprisonment of Palin to 37% now.

It's not all good news though. The Pew poll finds 70% view Palin as down-to-earth, vs. only 55% for the gaffey guy who's been a yabbering senator with congressional perqs since Palin was eight years old.

Also discouraging for the McCain camp must be the finding of a new Marist Poll, described by the Swamp's same Silva. It reveals that while a plurality (45%) expect Biden to perform better in the debate and a majority (61%) expect him to show a greater understanding of issues, compared to Palin's 36% and 28%, nearly two out of three expect Palin to come across as more likeable, compared to Biden's measly 23% anticipated likeability.

To facilitate the latest McCain plunge into oblivion by Nov. 4, the hockey mom is clearly going to have to do something outrageous during the debate to drive down her likeability. Maybe talk innocently about hairplugs. Or let slip something about her home state being 279 times larger than, say, Delaware. 

-- Andrew Malcolm

Don't forget to register at Twitter here to get instant alerts of all new Ticket items flashed straight to your cell.

Photo credit: Office of the Alaska Governor

Comments () | Archives (159)

The comments to this entry are closed.

Another instance of a news organization attempting to create the news rather than report it. Sigh.

I don't think satire works too well if you only realize its satire more than halfway through the article.

It's all about the expectations game. Play it right. Play it hard. How's the media going to spin it?

...except I thought the LA Times could TRY to show some objectivity and maybe some responsibility in their desire to report--not MAKE news. But who am I kidding right?

Responsibility...these days? I mean, look at Wall Street!

You have got to be kidding me. We've all seen Palin being Palin. That's the problem. And she didn't have to name a case -- just talk coherently for 15 seconds about one she disagrees with. She can be very charming and likable. No question about that. But she's woefully unprepared for the VP job -- she is not even prepared to RUN for it. She has taken questions from exactly two reporters since the announcement, which, in itself, is a disgrace.

Regardless of her debate performance, hiding a vice presidential candidate, in a such a problematic time for the United States and following one of the most secretive administrations in history is NOT a brilliant move. It is irresponsible and being played out like a game. Americans are tired of being played with.

"Or let slip something about her home state being 279 times larger than, say, Delaware. " - OK, but Delaware has a larger population.

ha ha. One little nitpick: neither candidate was asked to state the precise name of a supreme court decision. They were both asked to list a decision with which they disagreed.

Biden gave a detailed answer regarding a decision specific to legislation about violence against women.

Palin gave that moose caught in the headlight look.

An article based mainly on Polls...brilliant. Biden's glib nature and copious cocktails prior to will win the debate for Palin, not to mention her higher IQ.

All part of McCain's FAIL plan.

Alaska has 600,000 residents, less than a suburb of LA. What's so great about being a Governor of Alaska?

Looking at the polling numbers and the trend lines the past two weeks it looks as if we, the citizens of the United States may be on the verge of taking the largest step in our history to turning a blind eye to the color of a human's skin. We vote first as citizens of the United States of America, but we also vote, by proxy, for all the people of the world who look to us for the leadership of the democratic world. The election of Senator Obama would be a proud, defining moment in the history of our country. I would like to thank everyone who has sucked it up, put past feelings aside, and decided to support this highly intelligent, thoughtful man who has put himself in the center of the storm to lead the country he loves. Senator McCain, we love you and honor your service, but the stakes are too high to chance four more years of Republican rule. Senator Obama, if you win this, you've taken on the toughest job I can imagine. You've shown you have the calm judgement for decision making and the charisma to lead. Go get 'em Senator Obama

I can only surmise that the author's comments are meant to be sarcastic. It is not clear from the poor writing style exactly what Andrew Malcolm was trying to portray here. If Mr. Malcolm is pro-Obama, then the sarcasm is lost in this piece. To truly satirize Palin, Mr. Malcolm would have to make the negatives he mentions more clear. The aloofness of the article made me confused throughout.

how do can you state, "....Palin's two years as governor of the largest state as insufficient experience to become president." when alaska's 2006 estimated population according to was 670,053 and delaware's, according to the same source,, was 853,476? Oooohh, you're looking at square miles: alaska: 571,951.26, delaware: 1,953.56, california: 155,959.34. is that how congressional representation is calculated? you must be on mccain's payroll, eh? if not, why not try a little honesty in reporting?

Throttle back the sarcasm, there, dude. The Republicans can't understand you.

Long time republican here that for the first time won't be voting this election. John McCain's selection of Sarah Palin shows me a lack of judgement on somebody's part to say the very least. The fact of the matter is that John McCain is a war hero that I have respected and admired for many years. He supported the war, our troops, and actually does know what is best for this country. However, I can't support his choice for Governor Palin. I hate to say this next part but it is true. McCain has past the average life expectancy for a male in America. Plus he's had cancer 4 times which makes for about a 50% chance of him making through his first term. There is a high likelihood that she could be president. I am sorry guys but I can't trust a hockey mom with launch codes. I live in Dallas and Dallas has more people than all of Alaska so with that said she doesn't have the experience, especially in a time of war.

Duh !! America has already rejected her. There is no point trying to bring a maniac to support a maniac. They will put the country for sale together.
One thinks in past, and another doesn't think at all !!!
Please get serious ! You can't let these maniacs have anohter 4 years !!!

"Born to ask questions until they found some she couldn't answer" - Couric asked her what magazines she reads, and her thoughts on a 700 billion dollar bailout. These are the questions Palin couldn't answer. Although the latter is a big question, it's hard to see where it's not terribly relevant.

It isn't that she could not instantly reply something about the Supreme court! Most Americans would give her a pass on that type of question. But when asked what newspapers she read she simply stated a generic all kinds. When asked a second time to clarify the answer she implied that she read whatever was put in front of her all these years. What? A mayor, governor, and yes even the average Joe or Jane would know the name of at least one local paper. Heck, you could say the Times and be right 9 times out of 10. Why should we care what she reads, because issues are covered in all sorts of newspapers, magazines, and non-fiction books. Knowing what she likes to read or not read tells a lot about a person's views. For example, I try to watch Fox News periodically just so I can understand why those on the Right say and act the way they do. I compare what different media have to say, and in doing so I can pretty much tell the propaganda/spin from reality. Most of what Fox presents based on my comparisons is really angry, biggoted, and racist in an underhanded way. They like to wrap the American Flag around what they say to give it the appearance that it is only acting in the best interests of America. Rupert Murdoch owns News Corp, Rupert Murdoch got around a law restricting the purchase of news media by foreigners. Murdoch an Australian got dual American citizenship so he could buy up the medica. Most recently, against all good sense he was allowed to buy up the Wall Street Journal. Since then their has been run after run on banks and investment firms. In fact, the House did not pass a 700 billion buyout plan the other day and the market dropped 777 points. In other words, if you don't bailout Wall Street we will talk about fear, uncertainty and doom until the market plummets. Then when you do bail us out, we will take the money and run, only to require another bailout if you want stocks and press about financial institutions to remain positive. I don't believe in coincidences. Do you? And don't you think the Governor should have been able to cite at least one newspaper that she reads. I mean, she has to at least check them to see if they are for or against her policies as mayor, governor, and even as a VP running mate!

Why would mentioning that Delaware is much smaller than Alaska be a negative? I'm a former Delawarean, and now sometimes resident of Alaska. Of course, there's a huge contrast there. And Sarah Palin should bring it up.

Are you kidding? This is all too bizarre. Not finishing high school (son and daughter) and teenage unmarried pregnancy are family values for Palin and apparently the Evangelical Right. God bless America.

I would like to see an article here titled: "Obama's skeleton closet - Why the media and the democrats have sealed it with the insensity of Fort Knox."

Barack Hussein Obama was DIRECTLY involved in the failure of Fannie Mae, receiving $126,349 even AFTER it was well known that Fannie Mae was in serious trouble.

Watch for yourself on this link:

The TRUTH is tha Barack Hussein Obama is supported by the Communist Party of America.

"Website of the Communist Party, USA. We fight for labor unity, peace, equality, democracy and socialism. The CPUSA is part of the growing anti-war movement, fighting for peace locally and nationally. We love Barack Hussein Obama and Hillary Clinton and will do everything we can to get our comrades elected to the White House. Then we will be able to complete our takeover by shutting down talk radio and free speech via the internet."

Main site:
Their ring leader:
Matt Parker, Communist (google him)

235 W 23RD ST
NEW YORK, NY 10011-2302

The evil that surrounds Barack Hussein Obama should make EVERY American shudder at the thought of this man becoming President of the United States.

If you truly care about the very survival of Capitalism, Democracy, and Freedom, spread the TRUTH about Barack Hussein Obama and the danger he represents.

McCain / Palin 2008

I don't think that McCain had to do anything to showcase Gov. Palin's ineptitude. They simply picked her and let her be herself. Allow her to speak publicly about her protection from Witchcraft, her vast knowledge of Foreign Affairs, and her inability to lie (without moving her mouth) will teach all voter how well prepared she is to be President of the US.

What I think was really a MASTERSTROKE from the Republican was picking someone who would make George W look competent. How hard was it to find someone like that? They had to go all the way to Alaska.

Keep up the Palin criticism! What writers like this and the media in general consistently don't understand is how most working Americans want one of us in leadership instead of some ivy leagued, academic factoid-filled, A-typical politician who is adored by the media! It is actually to the point now where the more the mainstream media belittle a politician, the more fired up we get over wanting them in office. Similar to why all the media and wall street folks are shoving this bailout down our throats as necessary to prevent an economic collapse in our country without proving it to us first, and the vast majority of Americans don't want to bail out these private companies with our tax dollars; there is just a big difference in real American folks and the politicians/media in this country. Good luck with your continued ripping of Palin and idolizing of Obama! See you at the voting booth to prove your daily phone call polling wrong! ....sick of media's liberal bias!

Sarah Palin is a disgrace! She can not even answer a simple question in plain English! Her verbal skills are similar to Miss South Carolina, such as. My first grade students can put a logical sentence together better than she can.

She is a complete moron. Her vast "foreign policy experience" and her inability to name one single magazine or newspaper speaks volumes.

She and McCain make a great couple. He has shown the world how well he makes choices over the past few weeks. Blunder after blunder. They are both clueless. Heaven help us if these two get elected. We've already had a hillbilly in the White House for 8 years. Dont want a FIRST DUDE along with Joe 6-pack.


You're giving the McCain camp WAY too much credit. Do you honestly think they have a strategy of having her look like a fool in public so she comes out relatively shining during debates? That's the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard of.

It's easy to take any question during a debate and fine-tune your answer to an already established "core issue" response. It will be a lot easier than when Palin has to come up with unexpected questions on the fly. This is the reason why she will most likely not disappoint during the debate tonight.

Think of this when voting for a ticket containing an inexperienced hockey mom who will be just a fraction of a heartbeat of being the leader of the free world.....even the search committee of a small college uses better judgement and a more stringent vetting of experience and intellectual prowess in selecting candidates for their presidency. Wake up America! This is a joke......and many of you are being the jokees! The world is watching.

Alaska may be 279 times larger than Delaware, but Delaware has a larger population...........

Just to be clear, the McCain campaign is saying that some very important things to look for in a VP are youth, likeability, and being governor of as large a state as possible? Gee, that makes it easy! I don't have to worry about educating myself on the candidates' platforms at all now! Booo aspiring minorities! Yaaay rich white people!

Really snarky style to this article.

A V.P. candidate so cluless she isn't allowed to talk to the media and has to be accompanied by her clueless daddy everywhere she goes. Sounds like a great one to take over the country should that need ever arise.

Tonite is going to be a joke....for Palin. Biden is such a professional, good man all around,and Palin is so green (not in the environmental sense!). Palin will lose this debate for sure. As a woman, I am ashamed of her really, she puts her carreer WAY before her own family who obviously need her.

I understand that Republicans are obligated to speak the party line that Sarah Palin is fully qualified, but if you REALLY believe that, I seriously doubt both your commitment to good government for this country and your sanity.

Not a one-sided article at all, is it? Sounds like Andrew is a hater of sorts. Many think it, but I will say it- Obama will get it because he is -----.

you might also want to clarify one other little fact when you state that palin is, "....governor of the largest state...."
square miles:
delaware: 1,953.56
alaska: 571,951.26
wyoming: 97,100.40
hawaii: 6,422.62
fortunately, congressional representation isn't determined by square miles but by population; and even delaware has more people alaska:
Population, 2006 estimate:
delaware: 853,476
alaska: 670,053
wyoming: 515,004
hawaii: 1,285,498
if you're wondering why i've included hawaii, its part of the effort help gov palin excuse for ignorance as a governor whose state is not part of the contiguous United States? next: let's let katie couric interview the governors from the most populated, state with the most square miles and those not part of the contiguous United States. sound like fun? ok, not. but at least sarah will feel better on her flight back to alaska....

The nation is justifiably horrified at the prospect of having this woman being the one with her hand on the button during a crisis.

So why won't John McCain release his complete medical records?

He obviously has something to jide.

For the banned political ad that asked the question about his medical records, and more on the subject:

I do not agree with this liberal reporter who is an advocate of Obama's candidacy. Period.


Do keep in mind that, while Alaska is a physically large state, Delaware has a larger population (over 200,000 more, in fact).


Once again, I can't tell if Malcolm is serious, or if this is an attempt at sly satire. We're attributing a lof of very finessed calculation to this bumbling campaign, aren't we?

Irony notwithstanding, Palin is what America needs as the country seeks energy independence. Who among the democrats transacted a billion dollar plus pipeline to make America less dependent on foreign sources?

She is the gold nugget of the Yukon and America will be the richer for it.

I agree with lochmonster. I don't support McCain/Palin at all and think she's a dolt but this piece doesn't work.

It's sort of like the guy being beat about the head and face saying

"I got him just where I want him. I'm waring out his fists with my face to tire him out."

John's strategy:

Once he's behind by 10% in the national polls, he will declare another campaign emergency, get the election postponed, America will see that as an act of leadership and swing immediately to his side and elect him as America's 44th President.

It's all part of his master plan.... You poor dumb people just don't understand.

This will be a fun article to paste in Palin's scrapbook that will kept in her Observatory Circle home.

McCain, Honor, Honesty, Experience.

A little fib here and there, a l ittle lie here and there, old, cranky, picked the worst VP candidate in history, but who's looking anyway!

I would be willing to bet that perky Katie Couric didn't have an idea what Marbury v. Madison was until a lawyer friend of hers told her about it. Not every candidate has to know everything about everything to be President. Tired of the gotcha game being played against the Republicans and the Dems go scott free on these things.

I will keep saying it. No one in the traditional media gets it. After the debate tonight they still won't get it; but the rest of America will. Sarah Palin is the end of democrats getting real women's votes. The will still get the 2-3% of ugly women - feminists; but 'typical' women are going to relate to the first woman President of the USA - Sarah Palin!

Kay wrote, Do keep in mind that, while Alaska is a physically large state, Delaware has a larger population (over 200,000 more, in fact).

Kay, for that matter, Portland, Oregon has a larger population than Alaska. If that is Sarah Palin's experience, our Mayor Tom Potter should have been chosen by McCain. At least Mayor Tom Potter has been to China on a trade meeting. Palin saw China on TV. Potter has run a city twice the size of Alaska.

But really, if Palin just got her passport last year, how is it that she has all this international experience? I don't get it.

Mayor Tom Potter for Vice President!!!

Saying that Alaska is the largest state is misleading. It may be large geographically, but it has the population of the Pittsburgh area. Delaware is a much more populous state, and therefore "larger" than Alaska. Is being governor of Alaska akin to being mayor of Pittsburgh?

Show of hands - how many of you are voting for Obama just because he's different (black)?

Amazingly, in my lifetime I see the United States fall from sanity and grace.

Do you realize that the media can now get away with saying ANYTHING about anybody, with no respect, and we don't even question WHY? How sleazy and loathsome that we allow ourselves to be minimized as people.

Are we hypocrites, saying we want human rights in China and yet we savagely attack a family from Alaska? "Oh" you say, "only enough to destroy her politically." No, my country, not only that, but also ideologically and personally.

When we promised ourselves not to be as "they" are, but now we are "they." What happened?

Why do we think it's funny that Stephen Colbert sticks it to McCain and Palin but not Obama and Biden? and what about Leno and Letterman? Where are the comics who satirize and humanize, or dehumanize, the Democrats?

I'll tell you where. They have been stifled. We live in perilous times, America.

Do you realize that Al Qaeda's written plans are to destroy America financially and morally before overtaking it by force? Do you realize that the current financial debacle has terrorist ties?

Do you realize that the current media destruction of the Republican party has terrorist ties, and feels terrorist? Do you?

Why is Obama exempt from scrutiny?

Why is Obama exempt from satire?

Why was the New Yorker blasted for their weak attempt at satire?

Why do the liberal bloggers attack like terrorists, not aiming to discuss or convince, but to insult and destroy?

It is all connected.

1 2 3 4 | ยป


Recommended on Facebook


In Case You Missed It...

About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
President Obama
Republican Politics
Democratic Politics



Get Alerts on Your Mobile Phone

Sign me up for the following lists: