There are a lot of talking heads who, for various reasons, like to imply that Governor Palin somehow cost John McCain the election in 2008. We know that’s completely out of touch with reality, but it doesn’t stop people from trying to sell the idea. Her supporters, and grassroots Conservatives were there. We know that she energized the ticket and gave people a reason to vote for McCain. She inspired the base, and without her efforts, the Republican ticket would have no doubt suffered a much greater loss.
That said, the Los Angeles Times offered up some strong evidence on Tuesday to support what we already know to be true:
James E. Campbell, chairman of the political science department at the State University of New York, Buffalo, agreed with Gelman about the potential home-state boost, and added:
“As to Palin, I think that, on balance, she helped McCain. He went into the conventions behind and came out ahead. The later drop was tied to the financial meltdown. The evidence of that was that Bush’s approval numbers, as low as they were, dropped further and at the same time as McCain. There is no reason why Palin would have cost Bush approval points.”
Chairman Campbell is absolutely correct, and the data backs him up. Governor Palin gave her speech at the 2008 Republican National Convention on September 3rd of that year. On that day, John McCain trailed Barack Obama by 5 point, with Obama carrying 48% and McCain with 43%. On September 7th, McCain/Palin took the lead in the race by 10 points. That’s a 15 point gain in four days!
Now, let’s take a look at George W. Bush’s poll numbers from that same time period to verify Mr. Campbell’s assertion:
George W. Bush had a whopping 30.4% approval rating on September 7th, the same day that McCain was up over Obama by 10. If you look closely, you will see he actually got a small bump after the GOP Convention. Oh, the irony…
By October, after the economic collapse had started to take it’s toll on the country. George W. Bush’s already low numbers did as Chairman Campbell suggested, and dropped further, leaving him with an embarrassing low 25.7% approval rating.
According to another LA Times article from 2008:
The most decisive event in this campaign wasn’t anything either of the candidates said at their respective conventions or in any of the debates. It wasn’t a sound bite from a speech or interview, or a memorable assertion in a television commercial or e-mail attachment. The turning point in this election didn’t happen on the campaign trail but rather on Wall Street. In the last week of September, the race was essentially tied. Then Wall Street collapsed — and it collapsed right on top of John McCain.
It certainly didn’t help, as I’ve pointed out many times, that McCain’s campaign was being run by an incompetent lobbyist, who thought it was a good idea to suspend McCain’s campaign for photo-ops at the White House during the financial meltdown. But enough about Steve Schmidt.
As you can see, McCain also suffered from the news and reality of the economy. On the same day that George W. Bush hit his all-time low, McCain had dropped back down below Obama by almost 7 points.
Nobody who reads this website on a regular basis needed this information. We knew Governor Palin electrified the Republican base in 2008. We knew that the people running John McCain’s campaign fumbled the ball on many occasions, and we knew the economic collapse (on top of other matters) had damaged the Republican party beyond repair. If any two-bit hack journalist, GOPe talking-head, HBO movie, or left-wing Democrat operative tries to push the the theory that Governor Palin “cost John McCain the election in 2008,” you know they’re full of it, not only because you saw it with your own eyes, but the historical data proves what really cost Republicans the White House in 2008. To say otherwise, is a lie.