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. ginger

    Well, she doesn't appeal to me and here's why.

    1. Left the town she was Mayor of with 23 million in debt.
    2. Is currently under investigation for abuse of power.
    3. Didn't lay out an economic plan for the Country.

    Joe, get ready to slam her in the debate.

    September 4, 2008 01:01 am at 1:01 am |
  2. Mike, Syracuse NY

    I think Palin, Giuliani and Huckabee were all great tonight. What a change from the doom and gloom whining of the Democrats last week. America is largely a conservative nation. Palin will go a long way toward winning rural America. Urban America is largely minorities. Obama has them anyway. If she can grab a reasonable slice of the suburbs, McCain has it won. As Giuliani so aptly pointed out, Obama has run nothing. He's never balanced a budget. In fact, he has been part of the Democratic Congress that has authorized the biggest deficit in history. I predict that Obama's lead is gone in the next poll. The Democratic response on Larry King: pathetic. I guess tonight the Reps hit to close to home.

    September 4, 2008 01:01 am at 1:01 am |
  3. E. Robinson

    Tonight's performance is frightening for the future of race relations in this great country of ours. Barack Obama's speech last Thursday on the anniversary of Dr. King's "I have a Dream' speach is beginning to fade. My concern that in his effort to become President, John McCain and Sarah Palin will invoke code words and personal attacks against the O'bama's and will start to bring the worst out in racist, bigoted people who need an excuse to be hateful and mean spirted. I am sadden and afraid for the future of race relations. How can either candidate make real change if the Republicans are going to encourage hate? How can they reach across the aisle' bring real change when after tonight's tirade, it is evident that the Republicans will use every dirty trick available to them in order to win.

    September 4, 2008 01:01 am at 1:01 am |
  4. Neutral

    Palins speech was a lie from the beginning to the end.

    Just like those other clowns before her.

    I hope that americans fall not for such a ballony.

    Amacing for CNN because they like that kind of controversy.
    And for the changes, those are Oamas changes not John McCains.

    Lies nothing but lies.

    September 4, 2008 01:02 am at 1:02 am |
  5. Independentandlovingit

    when they choose to go into Iraq and stay there and spend billions of Dollars in a war that should never have happened.. They gave up on they sat back and did nothing for the people of New Orlean, allow companies to close their doors in the US and go everseas, let top CEO companies make millions while people lose their jobs, Give tax breaks to big Oil companies with american footing the bill, and watch families after families lose their homes, Who gave up on who….We have not given up on America that is why we will fight to take Washington back.

    September 4, 2008 01:02 am at 1:02 am |
  6. casey

    Carl Bernstein got it dead right - the Republican Party has been hijacked by the right-wing. Palin's aggressiveness will appeal to the basest, most beholden interests of the Party and, in the end, may serve to alienate the common rational voter. All the speeches tonight, from Huckabee to Giuliani, stressed the lowest, dumbest most jingoistic platform.
    On another note: a comment on Campbell Brown's excoriation of Harry Reid's usage of the word "shrill" in describing Palin's speaking style. Did no one notice the buttons calling the Vice Presidential candidate a "hot chick"?

    September 4, 2008 01:02 am at 1:02 am |
  7. hick

    huckabee is only one with integrity. rest are trash.

    September 4, 2008 01:02 am at 1:02 am |
  8. Dave

    That 40 minute tirade did nothing to convert anyone on the the fence to the McCain-Palin crowd. It played well to the base but that tone will not win people over.

    September 4, 2008 01:02 am at 1:02 am |
  9. patrick

    Personally , she really only appealed the GOP base.There was nothing in her speech that spoke to middle american or the liberal base as far as being bipartisan like she claims.

    September 4, 2008 01:02 am at 1:02 am |
  10. Kevin C.

    Unless suburban america is mostly republican white women, then she much as the repubs are trying to say she is a great pick, the only reason mccain picked her was for the women voters he think are left cause of hillary not being picked.....that's how the repubs are promoting her...they not promoting her as a qualified candidate, that she is the right person for the job, they promoting her as a white repub woman first......this was mccain's and the repubs hail mary, and i dont think it's gonna work.....

    September 4, 2008 01:02 am at 1:02 am |
  11. Bruce

    Sarah Palin's speech was full of clichés. Her whole approach seems rather mindless – as evidenced by her enthusiasm for shaking up Washington while her own party is mostly responsible for the mess she would help clean up. It's a bit late in the campaign for a largely unknown Governor to connect to voters – no matter where they live.

    September 4, 2008 01:03 am at 1:03 am |
  12. lola

    Her speech had no substance at all. No mention of the ECONOMY, HOW THEY ARE GOING TO END THE WAR, JOBS, ETC.

    September 4, 2008 01:03 am at 1:03 am |
  13. Donald Wiederecht

    Your network deserves better than David Gergen. Thoughtful analysis and commentary appear to be above his paygrade. As significant events unfold, he appears to be at a loss on how to find critical commentary against the intellectual conservatives. Why must a public media champion their liberal bias so unprofessionally. Are you following the self serving business practices that you so loudly criticize in other businesses ?

    September 4, 2008 01:03 am at 1:03 am |
  14. fafa

    It was a well delivered speech, even if it was full of lies. But what’s sad is that the smaller town folk who don’t follow politics as closely or have access to the full story will fall for her.

    September 4, 2008 01:03 am at 1:03 am |
  15. realist

    take that picture out I'm getting sick

    September 4, 2008 01:03 am at 1:03 am |
  16. Victoria

    I hope that women in suburban America are smart enough not to fall for this ultra right wing rally cry. Women will care more about their children's future, dreams and sensibility to have 4 more years of the same narrow minded view of lief and the world. America must be smarter than this...

    September 4, 2008 01:03 am at 1:03 am |
  17. Lisa

    Why in the world would they attack community organizers? People who give of themselves EVERYDAY to help others? Unconscionable and repugnant. Who knew patriotism and love of your country could be turned into propaganda for one party? This convention is disgusting.

    Sarah Palin absolutely has not one ounce of appeal to this suburban working mother. I want to see a woman in the White House – but not this woman. Didn't like McCain before. Can't stand him now OR the exclusive, cliquish GOP. YUCK.

    September 4, 2008 01:03 am at 1:03 am |
  18. Law

    I saw full of teeth and claws from this convention. Appalling !

    September 4, 2008 01:03 am at 1:03 am |
  19. AJ

    She wants to add creatonism to school curriculum, and replace sex education with absitinence only education. I think the fallacy in both those stances will be evident to the higher educated suburbanite.

    September 4, 2008 01:03 am at 1:03 am |
  20. Alicia Cooper

    I am shocked by the change of attitude in the news anchors of CNN who were at first objective, but since Palin's speech tonight they are acting like scared chickens. Are you afraid of the Repulicans? To add, I was appauled that they had Palin's pregnant daughter on stage holding hands with her "baby daddy" as if it is ok for an un-wed, young woman to openly and proudly on a national stage display her pregnancy. Since this Palin daughters story broke, I've been compelled to speak with my eight year old daughter and explain to her that teenage pregnancy is not a family value that we promote.

    September 4, 2008 01:03 am at 1:03 am |
  21. Alan Glanz

    I was *completely* turned off by Palin. Her speech's content AND her delivery were something you hear from someone running for student council of a local high school, not the Vice Presidency of the USA! I have to believe that she will NOT connect with most people who have had a college education... (I'm not sure if that's suburbanites or not.) Her speech was simplistic, simple-minded, completely *unpresidential* in its nastiness and baseness - and in its content it was devoid of any real substance. THIS lady could be VP??? Unbelievable, and VERY scary.

    September 4, 2008 01:04 am at 1:04 am |
  22. diogenes49

    I don't think so. Sarah Palin gave a wonderful visceral speech tonight. As I looked at the delegates it was apparent that she was preaching to the choir. Suburban women can be diverse, a lot of it is geographical.

    The election is about McCain and Obama.

    September 4, 2008 01:05 am at 1:05 am |
  23. Karen Rogers

    From the heartland of America I can only say positive things about Sarah Palin. I watched the entire Democratic Convention last week and even with my college degree I cannot state one issue that the Democrats told me how they would change things. I only heard the word change-not how they would "fix all the problems". Wasn't the Democrats in control of the House and Senate the last few years?
    So why did they not do some changes? And the biggest problem I have with Obama is why did he vote "present" so many times in the state instead of casting a yes or no? Is this a sign of a true leader?

    September 4, 2008 01:05 am at 1:05 am |
  24. dsmith9449

    I think that Sarah Palin is a breath of fresh air.....straight from Alaska. I was almost certain to sit out this election, but the more I see of the Republican ticket, and especially Sarah, the more likely I am to register my vote for change in Washington. Yes....Senator McCain is a Washington insider. And yes, I believe that he has dedicated himself to countering the insider attitude of entitlement....he's ready and willing and capable of changing Washington! And so is Sarah!

    September 4, 2008 01:05 am at 1:05 am |
  25. Scott

    Do people in the suburbs admire the so called "elites"? It is doubtful. I think she will play off as a conservative mother of five, who is more real than someone like Hillary, whose entire life was based around political achievement. Palin seems like a regular mom, who juggles her parental responsibilities with that of her career. I am not from the country by any means, and I believe that she has the ability to connect with family orientated people in a way in which Obama, Biden, and even McCain are unable to.

    September 4, 2008 01:05 am at 1:05 am |
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