It's been debated for five years, and the conventional wisdom has generally concluded that Sarah Palin, the 2008 GOP vice presidential nominee, hurt Sen. John McCain's chances to beat then-Sen. Barack Obama for the presidency with her outsized and controversial personality.
But now a comprehensive new analysis of the so-called “Palin Effect” finds that in the final analysis, the former Alaska governor helped McCain by attracting more voters to the ticket, crushing a mainstream media view.
What’s more, while she attracted wider press attention than most prior veep candidates, her actual impact for a No. 2 was about average.
“Palin had a positive effect on McCain,” according to the new Palin analysis in the authoritative Political Research Quarterly.
Digesting mountains of data, two political science professors from Bradley University in Peoria, Ill., said their findings showed that the conventional wisdom that independent voters ran from the McCain-Palin ticket was wrong. They found that independent voters had the same reaction to Palin as Republicans, who largely liked her.
Both findings could provide a basis for a 2016 run for the presidency by the Tea Party favorite.
“Palin did not have a negative effect on McCain's voter share overall, nor did she result in eroded support for McCain among critical swing voters such as independents and moderates,” the duo wrote.
Their analysis picked apart a recent report that Palin drove off voters and was uniquely divisive, claiming it was flawed.
Instead, it found that Palin “did not have a unique or unprecedented influence on the race; at best, she had precisely the same small effect on vote choice in 2008 that we would expect of any running mate.”Paul Bedard, The Washington Examiner's "Washington Secrets" columnist, can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.