September 4th, 2008
12:22 AM ET
14 years ago

Gergen: Will Sarah Palin appeal in suburban America?


Palin wowed the RNC Wednesday, but how will she play in suburbia? (Photo credit: E.M. Pio Roda / CNN )

It is clear from tonight's national debut that Sarah Palin may connect extremely well in rural, small-town America. And no doubt, Republicans will be sending her there in key states like Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan and the like. Her pit bull style, combined with her humor and presence along with her roots, will likely draw people to her. Lots of people there will look forward to hearing her in person.

The question for me is whether she will also appeal in suburban America. I am not at all certain that she will: her combative, anti-elitist style - along with her staunch conservatism on issues like abortion - may just leave a lot of voters cool if not cold.

The answer to that question could have a big bearing on the election. What do you think?

soundoff (1,169 Responses)
  1. Obama4President

    The chance of gaining McCain enough votes to win the election equates to the same chances of a toaster driving through a car wash.

    Here's why Obama has this election nearly in the bag. In the end, the presidential election is decided by electoral votes, not the popular vote. Even the most conservative polls will project Obama having over 200 electoral votes, easily. Most independent voters in suburban areas don't care about the hockey mom mentality; rather, their issues are more likely going to be focused on the economy, healthcare and the price of gas, none of which are issues, in my opinion, Palin can swing voters for McCain.

    September 4, 2008 12:49 am at 12:49 am |
  2. Matt, GA

    I thought Palin made some unwarranted attacks at Obama especially concerning his readiness and qualifications to lead while not really giving any true indications of what really makes her qualified. What does she stand for other than the policies and social conservatism of the last 8 years? I have enough faith in the intelligence of this nation to believe people will not fall for the same Republican style fear tactics than won them the last election. It's time for some serious fact-checking on the various attacks at Obama.

    September 4, 2008 12:49 am at 12:49 am |
  3. Beth

    It's too bad that whatever humor she displayed during her speech was manufactured by the McCain campaign. The commentators on ABC even touched on the fact that writers in the Republican Party had written a speech a long time ago to be read by the VP candidate at this time, and they had to rewrite it when McCain nominated a woman, so they could make it sound like something a woman would say. So how am I supposed to believe that anything she said tonight was genuine, and not because she can read a teleprompter? I had to turn it off because I found her remarks to be vague and ill-informed. To attack Obama for his hike on taxes, and then neglect to mention that any tax hikes Obama will implement will affect those in the higher income bracket, is as good as a lie. To say that she is against big oil and then fight desperately for drilling in the state she governs is a contradiction. And her examples of "cutting extravagant spending" in the Alaskan budget (driving herself to work and cooking the family meals versus having a chauffeur and a private cook ) are laughable at best... so she does the same things that 95% of the country does, does she want a gold star? They paint her as some kind of maverick with small-town appeal, but do we really want a hockey mom with next to no political experience with her finger on the trigger, should McCain kick the bucket? I don't think so.

    September 4, 2008 12:49 am at 12:49 am |
  4. James In Oregon

    The one thing that stood out to me is , she is more then willing to flat out lie. Personally i don't see her winning over middle America , but i can see her being a big hit with the extreme right , they love a good liar. On the up side , Palin opened the door , and it's going to be fun watching Biden take her down the hard way.....LOL.

    September 4, 2008 12:49 am at 12:49 am |
  5. Trish


    I was born and live in a big city and I admire Sarah Palin's grit and toughness. I wasn't sure whether she would appeal to me or not until tonight and I absolutely loved her combination of wit, intelligence and strength. In particular when she spoke about family I felt a connection with her. I do believe she can be a leader after listening to her speak tonight and I was pleased that she spoke about some of her accomplishments in Alaska, especialy her focus on energy independence and she has taken on "big oil." It is obvious to me that she can stand "toe-to-toe" with anyone on the challenges this nation faces. The fact that she is "outside the box" when it comes to typical Washington politics makes her even more appealing. I am a former Hillary Clinton supporter and I am proud to say my vote this election is with Mccain/Palin.

    September 4, 2008 12:49 am at 12:49 am |
  6. lily

    Hillary! nothing compares to you. Please don't give up.

    September 4, 2008 12:49 am at 12:49 am |
  7. CV

    I think this is a woman who puts a job before her child. We all heard and see that she has a special needs INFANT. Instead of parading your son around at this hour in such a loud atmosphere, mom, maybe next time can you forget about your personal agenda and look out for the needs of your child and keep him home with a BABYSITTER!! And dad, did you not see you little girl wiping her spit and poking at your drugged up, i mean sleeping child. How, dad, do you plan to care for your children while your wife is at work, when you have shown the world that your judgement is a little off to have a little kid watching your special needs infant in such a manner. Can I repeat INFANT. Is there a Child Protective Services in Alaska or is this not considered neglectful parenting. Will the repugs just blow this all off as being cute?!?

    September 4, 2008 12:49 am at 12:49 am |
  8. OS

    The most pathetic and politically cheap speech lacking moral values and absolutely no substance.

    This woman is not even fit to be a decent human being.

    September 4, 2008 12:49 am at 12:49 am |
  9. Donna Castellano

    Everyone remember that speech given by Pat Buchanan in 1992 at the Republican Convention?

    We've just seen it again.

    September 4, 2008 12:49 am at 12:49 am |
  10. steve

    she was (is) a one-trick pony, this palin. insults and sarcastic remarks are not the politics of change, and not what this country needs.

    September 4, 2008 12:49 am at 12:49 am |
  11. Angry woman

    No SHE WILL NOT that speech was just down right ugly. I was ashamed that she would give her first impression of nothing but bashing. This is why this country is so divided with all of the hatred and bashing each other. The speech gave no solutions / substance on what problems we are having. McCain is just using this woman as an ATTACK DOG. I have a special needs child. I would never politically exploit this developmental disabilities to get ahead. Why all of a sudden Special Needs is a topic now. That was mean. She can't reach out to me with that. She has nannies to care for her child. I have myself and my husband to care for our child. So don't think that because your child has down syndrome you can make it better for all parents that have special needs in their family. That really hurt my feelings. They will not get my vote just because of this exploitation.

    September 4, 2008 12:49 am at 12:49 am |
  12. Tim

    Not impressed one bit.

    September 4, 2008 12:50 am at 12:50 am |
  13. mike

    I don't care where a person is from.... they would have not care about the issues at all to even consider this woman as anything but a ridiculous gimmick. is this seriously the best the republican party could do? a childish mudslinger without a scrap of meaningful experience to point to? what a sad sad day for the party of Lincoln.

    September 4, 2008 12:50 am at 12:50 am |
  14. Suzanne

    What proportion of the convention is suburbia? I'm in a suburban area and worked to get out the vote and turn my community blue. We succeeded. I'm 63 and the majority of my friends are voting for Obama. My 30-something daughter and all her friends call this election a no-brainer. McCain is mistaken if he thinks he can co-opt the word change. Not here, not this year. Oh yes, my 23 year old son on the other side of the country in a rural area gets it too.

    David Brooks (NY Times 9-2) had a great opinion article about the Palin pick. I think the GOP is not together on this one. After a week, and Sarah's public vetting, everyone will see what she learned in her crash course.

    September 4, 2008 12:50 am at 12:50 am |
  15. Cathy

    Perfect. CNN's banner under Sarah Palin's speech video?

    "Go Ahead and Puke."

    That we will.

    September 4, 2008 12:50 am at 12:50 am |

    Great speech and a wonderful delivery. Now I know that she said no to the "bridge Under a compromise transportation spending bill, Alaska would still get the federal dollars - but the money would not be specifically used for the bridge, but used in other transportation projects. So they, Alaska, still got the money. I guess technically she said no to a specific porkbarrel project but still took the pork.

    September 4, 2008 12:50 am at 12:50 am |
  17. sb

    I guess the lower the IQ, the greater her appeal.

    September 4, 2008 12:50 am at 12:50 am |
  18. Lisa S - St. Louis MO

    As a soccer & softball mom from suburban middle America, I was appalled at the personal, nasty attacks on the Democrats...I plan to go back and re-watch the Democratic speeches to see if I see any of this venom because I surely do not remember any.

    She reminds me of the "popular" girls in high school who used to say vicious things about the rest of us who were not cheerleaders, prom queens, or as pretty as the girls in their elite group (those unpopular girls that later went on to become chemists,college professors, and the like I might add). That is not the kind of person I want in charge of anything.

    This suburban mom is not fooled...I want someone to deal with the issues of our country and provide solutions, not a team that tears down the opponent and doesn't address what everyone wants to know.

    One last thing...if I hear one more word about 9/11 and "victory" and even the term, "war on terror", I think I am going to vomit. This convention tonight scared the dickens out of me because I actually had visions of the Nazi party when Rudy Guliani was speaking...

    I am scared for our country...

    September 4, 2008 12:50 am at 12:50 am |
  19. Josh

    September 4, 2008 12:50 am at 12:50 am |
  20. Chikk On Lit

    I thought the Speech was great! But the race has already been won.... the republicans are now just trying to restore their reputation because this campaign has exposed them....

    Obama/Biden 08

    September 4, 2008 12:50 am at 12:50 am |
  21. Human

    I just watched the Republican convention speeches.
    I have never seen anything so disturbing. Grown men and women who want to run the country (and they have been) acting like a high school click. Laughing at and making fun of the other party. The only thing they did not say was na, na, na, na, na. I just have to ask, do they really misunderstand what Democrats say or do they mean to twist things, take things out of context, and basically lie. Listening to them I would have thought that it was the Democratic party that has messed things up so terribly these last eight years. Now that is spin. As for McCain/Palin in power, they would be a magnified Bush/Cheney. He is impulsive and reckless and everything about her screams a bullying sense of abuse of power.

    September 4, 2008 12:50 am at 12:50 am |
  22. Phil

    As someone that has voted Republican since I made the mistake of voting for Jimmy Carter, I just thought that tonight the Republicans really showed what they really are made of: hatred. They talk alot about christian values, but I think Jesus would be tossing them out of their 'temple' if he was there.

    I have been leaning towards Obama because he offers hope and hearing Sarah Palin tonight made up my mind. She was mean and is nothing but John McCain's pretty pit bull who knows how to read some speechwriter's words off a teleprompter.

    Obama-Biden 08/12

    September 4, 2008 12:50 am at 12:50 am |
  23. NYCSF

    I am a Mexican Woman who, together w/ my husband who is Irish, is working to get ahead in life. The republication convention came across to me as a party that wants to commence a war amongst the Americans. I do believe that with a little hope, community support, embracing diversity is what will continue to make America great.

    What I saw from the republication convention was a lack of diversity, lack of substance and an unwillingness to provide a plan on how they plan to help average america.

    Barack has my vote.

    Lets stop fighting and lets begin focusing on fixing the Bush MESS.

    September 4, 2008 12:51 am at 12:51 am |
  24. Shelby Jackson

    I like her alot..she seems more authentic than Hillary. Maybe because Hillary has got caught up in the game of political strategy.. that she felt she had to use because the republicans were good at it. I see her going down the same road but the road she is on will end up where we are trying to get away from...the same policies that led us to war and our current economic crisis. Tonight she held her baby...a few days ago the baby was carried by her daughter to cover up her pregnancy until they got they got the story straight. Bristol's "baby's daddy" looked like "What did I get myself into?"

    Great Speech...More propaganda......More of the same!

    September 4, 2008 12:51 am at 12:51 am |
  25. concerned American

    Well, I drive a Suburban and I have to get back and forth to Soccer and my gas prices are really high and not to mention, I have to get my nails done and my roots done and then take the kids to soccer...and it costs so much but I have to get my nails done and then make Junior League Meetings, ya know–
    So I kinda like her...I LOVE her hair, so what was the question–yah, I like her, she's CUTE!

    But why doesn't she ya know stay HOME–surely she can afford it...but she's really cute!

    September 4, 2008 12:51 am at 12:51 am |
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