Murphy's Law
07-09-2009
It has been fascinating to watch the evolution of high-profile Republican consultant and political analyst Mike Murphy over the past year. Even if you haven’t seen him on television recently, you may remember Murphy from his role as a senior strategist in John McCain’s first campaign for the presidency in 2000. In his more recent gig as a Republican political commentator for NBC, Murphy has become best known for his strong criticism of Sarah Palin.
 
During the Republican euphoria of those initial heady weeks of Palin’s vice presidential run, Murphy was almost completely alone among fellow partisans in delicately raising a few red flags about her candidacy, and he took a tremendous amount of heat for it from political elites within his party.  Murphy’s criticism of Palin has only grown more pointed since that time, until today when he finally let her (and the party’s obsession with her) truly have it in a piece published in the New York Daily News.
 
Murphy’s argument is actually quite similar to one I have made in several posts, most recently here. The qualifications issue aside, the biggest problem with Palin as a potential presidential candidate is that she is just too polarizing a political figure. As some new Gallup polling data underscores, she is tremendously popular among Republicans, but does quite poorly with Democrats and independents.
 
What is most problematic is that Palin shows very little interest or aptitude for remedying this circumstance in a way that would allow the assembly of a winning electoral coalition. While Murphy acknowledges Palin’s strength as a leader among the party’s conservative base, he voices real concern that the Republican Party is locking itself into a losing electoral dynamic. The genuine frustration he expresses in the Daily News piece is indicative of a fundamental strategic split that is likely to dog the Republican Party for the foreseeable future. And, Palin’s rapid ascent in the party is its most visible manifestation.


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