Republican presidential nominee John McCain has shaken up the race for
the White House and pumped new excitement into his campaign by choosing
Alaskan Governor Sarah Palin as his vice presidential candidate. VOA
Correspondent Cindy Saine takes a look at a potential "Palin effect" on
the November 4 election.
Several polls taken after the
Republican National Convention show John McCain's popularity ratings
are surging upward, and some show him holding a slight lead over his
opponent, Barack Obama.
One poll in particular may be causing
concern for the Obama campaign. A new Washington Post/ABC News survey
finds McCain is now ahead of Obama by 12 points among white women, 53
to 41 percent.
Last month Senator Obama held an eight point
lead over McCain among white women voters in the same poll,
representing a stunning, 20 point shift among that group.
is similar movement, but not quite as dramatic, in another poll
released this week. A new NBC/Wall Street Journal poll shows Obama's
lead among women shrinking from 14 points a month ago to just four
Karlyn Bowman, Senior Fellow with the conservative
American Enterprise Institute, and an expert on U.S. politics and
public-opinion polls, says it is not clear whether this major shift in
opinion will last, but it is clear that a lot of American women can
relate to Palin, a 44-year-old mother of five. "But I also think that
Sarah Palin connected with a lot of ordinary women voters, with her
speech at the convention, with the discussions of her family, and some
of the struggles and ups and downs that family has had."
emerged at the Republican National Convention as a virtual unknown on
the national stage, and her family has played a prominent role in her
introduction to the country. She has a five-month-old son with with
Down's Syndrome, and a 17-year-old daughter who is pregnant and plans
to marry the baby's father.
Janice Crouse, with the
socially-conservative Christian political action group Concerned Women
for America, says she believes a majority of American women will
support Palin in the election because they agree with her on important
issues. "The majority of American women are very common sense people.
You know, they support traditional American values, they know the value
of marriage, they know the value of family, they know the value of
life. And they admire someone who puts feet to their beliefs, who is
authentic, who is real, who is not just spinning things for a political
Palin says she opposes abortion even if the mother
is a victim of rape or incest and some analysts say her views hold
strong appeal for social conservatives, both men and women who
constitute an important base of the Republican Party. But they say
many other women will have trouble with her views on social issues once
they get to know her better.
ABC analyst Matthew Dowd says
when there is a sudden and large shift in polls such as with Palin, it
is usually temporary. "Usually when you have swings this large and this
quick, they do not stick for a long time. They are quick, because
something has changed fundamentally, and then people take a second look
at this," he said.
There was a similar phenomenon in 1984, when
Democratic presidential candidate Walter Mondale nominated Geraldine
Ferraro as his vice presidential candidate. She was the first woman to
be nominated as vice president on a major U.S. party ticket, Palin is
Mondale's pick gave him a sudden 15-point boost in
the polls, but within weeks, the numbers returned to where they were
before. Mondale ended up losing the election in a landslide to Ronald
The Palin phenomenon has definitely caught the Obama
campaign by surprise. Obama acknowledged that Palin has energized
Republicans, but said he could not believe that voters would being
swinging back and forth "this wildly." "What we are going to have to do
is see how things settle out over the next few weeks, when people start
examining who is actually going to deliver on the issues that people
With less than eight weeks to go to the November 4
election, women voters may determine whether Governor Sarah Palin is a
shooting star or a political force to be reckoned with now and in the