Cullen Sends Out the Palin Search Party
I fear that I am starting to feel a creeping sense of Sarah Palin fatigue once again, but when I saw Fergus Cullen’s Friday column in the Union Leader, I had to do one more post. Cullen asks a very reasonable question about why we are not seeing more of the former Alaska governor in the Granite State, given that she is currently traveling far and wide to do political appearances. The answers he floats are equally reasonable: Maybe she doesn’t want to interfere in our contested Republican primaries; perhaps she doesn’t want to have her visit unavoidably framed as testing the presidential waters; or possibly the groups that have invited her can’t or won’t cough up the hefty speaking fee. All are likely contributing factors to her absence from the New Hampshire political scene.
But here is my sense of the underlying reason for Palin’s lack of visits: Everything she does politically is relentlessly directed as reinforcing her core ideological base of support. Palin engages in very little political activity that takes her away from that mission and outside of her comfort zone. Her political strength is drawn from a group of voters whose common identity and shared values stem from a specific sort of cultural and religious conservatism. This is not the traditional economic conservatism of New Hampshire’s old line Republicans, nor is it the libertarianism that our residents often seem to cherish. Palin’s conservatism resonates with social and religious conservatives in the South and the Heartland, but not in the Northeast and West Coast. New Hampshire is one of the least religious states in the country. Sure, she'll draw a crowd, but there is no natural constituency here for Palin to consolidate.
Yes, we have Cornerstone, but in the grand scheme of social and religious conservatism it is a small organization. Yes, Palin is appearing in Boston, but that is likely due to the city’s historical connection with the Boston Tea Party, the large media market in which she’ll be playing, and the potential for a large speaking fee. Don’t expect to see her spending much time in Massachusetts, either. Let’s assume for a moment that Palin runs for president. Any chance at all that she would beat former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney up here? No. Palin may return for an occasional visit, but New Hampshire, like the rest of the Northeast, doesn’t offer much return on her investment.
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