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. Eve

    McCain and Palin can't beat the media too. They act as they are in a war with fellow ameicans. Just division, pure hatred and vitriol. This will backfire on them. Too many people are hurting, we don't want this divisivise Karl Rove, Right Wing Crap.

    September 4, 2008 01:22 am at 1:22 am |
  2. Tim


    September 4, 2008 01:22 am at 1:22 am |
  3. Theresa Hughes

    Palin as VP? Now there's a man made natural disaster... Those in the suburbs might want to head for the hills!

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

    If by suburban, you mean the ignorant, hate-filled Republicans who still adhere to Dubya's way of doing things, than yes.

    This Independent is less than impressed. I'll be voting for Obama in November.

    September 4, 2008 01:23 am at 1:23 am |
  5. Diane

    As a suburban Mom, for me the answer is no. Her views are far too conservative. Pro-life, thinks global warming is a hoax, and believes we are on a mission from God in Iraq. All add up to disaster. We need real change now.

    September 4, 2008 01:23 am at 1:23 am |
  6. Dalila

    I couldn't agree with you more. She is of no appeal to me. I gave her a chance today, by watching her, but i think it was not worthy. It is for people like her that i don't vote republican!!!!
    Thank you!!! Please reply if possible

    September 4, 2008 01:23 am at 1:23 am |
  7. truth

    Gergen, Gov. Palin already called you out during her speech. She doesn't need your good opinion. This is one tough cookie and she did not crumble. You guys, the media, have been ripping her to shreds for days and attacking her family. It's obvious she's a fighter and does not back down. Those are qualities any American can relate to.

    September 4, 2008 01:23 am at 1:23 am |
  8. laura


    Huge fan in Canada. I will be honest I found the whole thing mean spirited. And I felt like there was a sign on the door saying "whites only".
    And I am white. Last week you saw men and women of all different races crying over the historic moment and united in hope for the vision your country.

    Tonight it was polarizing and quite upsetting to see the crowd cheer and shout and clap to every mean spirited word as if to protect themselves from someone they think is beneath them. On the contrary he stands much taller.

    Obama is a candidate you see once in a generation

    September 4, 2008 01:23 am at 1:23 am |
  9. seah

    Yes She will

    She is one of us, An American who went into politics to change it.

    She has proven she can.

    she is not an Elitist, she was not born with a silver spoon in her mouth. Everything she got she had to earn the old fashion way. She wants America to Safe for all of us, run properly and cut out the unnecessary spending.

    She is Ready and Able and willing to work hard. Above all they will listen to the people. Unlike their opponent who tells the people what they want, what they need.

    September 4, 2008 01:24 am at 1:24 am |


    September 4, 2008 01:24 am at 1:24 am |
  11. EG

    It's all about changing the narrative. Issues are being avoided, in lieu of referenda on "Do you like Sarah Palin?", "Can a mother of 5 do the job?", "Isn't John McCain a hero?"

    As long as voters are cognizant that they are voting for a President and President-in-waitin who will enact policy, the democrats should fair well. The issues and the times are not in the republican's favour.

    However, it would do McCain some good to actually mention issues, the economy, or something relevant to the average voter's quality of life. If he continues the low-substance redirection play we've seen all c.onvention, I think voters will be left asking where that beef is after all...

    September 4, 2008 01:24 am at 1:24 am |
  12. cv

    I wonder if CNN will ever post this.
    People, 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?!? CNN do you not see this as important?

    September 4, 2008 01:24 am at 1:24 am |
  13. indewoman for OBAMA

    I'm a suburban housewife and mom and she lost my vote. Nothing shre said would be change for just was OBAMA bashing and I'm sick of the negative words...I'm OBAMA

    September 4, 2008 01:24 am at 1:24 am |
  14. cheryll from Kansas

    First of all I thought I was at comedy central and I am not being sarcastic. Here is a party that once agains talks about America but only if you are a Republican, where is the diversity in this party?? I am tired of these attacks and lies, I feels if you are going to attack then attack with truth, I heard more lies come out of the republican camp on Sen. Obama and I am APPALLED about that. To belittle him with being a community organizer, they need to talk to those people who he helped to find their voice and to fight for them when no one would. Where was McCain or Palin?? As a suburban mother I am just sick to my stomach on what I saw tonight. They did not speak about what they would do for me it was just attack and fear, but then again isn't it them that said we are safer now because of Bush and McCain? You can't have it both ways. It will not work thise time and I am afraid they just don't get it. To tell you I have to say as a White women I was angry from the majority of this party that is white, tonight I saw the ugliness and that is a party I don't want in this office.

    September 4, 2008 01:25 am at 1:25 am |
  15. C.Hill

    As a independent voter wanting to find the best canidate for the job, I'm very disappointed in CNN's coverage. To sit and watch 3 people on Larry King sit and bash on Palin, I just don't get how you can expect the average voter to sit and watch this. It's like having two prize boxers getting into the ring to fight and bounding one of the fighters hands behind their back. I don't undersand why you don't tell both sides to severe your viewers justice. I also watched last night and it seemed like the same thing. I do watch other news networks to get a full view of the race and it looks like your network is a cheerleader for the left. Like I said, i'm have both left views as well as right views and I looking for fare and balanced coverage. I thought that the coverage of the Barack and Hillary campaign was also cover unfairly and wanted to know what was going on.

    September 4, 2008 01:25 am at 1:25 am |
  16. Sluggo

    Gergan is whistleling thru the graveyard. The Washington elites are scared.

    September 4, 2008 01:25 am at 1:25 am |
  17. Belle

    Sorry David,
    I think you are way off base on that opinion.
    I'm a Democrat. I supported Hillary Clinton. Still believe out of everyone, she would have made the best President.

    But Sarah Palin? Wow! She is not Hillary Clinton, but she CERTAINLY is Sarah Palin! McCain made a great choice....keeping her under wraps threw the Obama and the Media off!

    Now you can tell the Obama Campaign is pissed...and by the commentary these last few days, the media has also been pissed.

    But not only did Sarah energize the Republican ticket, she energized some of us Democratic women too! I think Obama blew it...and this race will be another close call. Why? Obama is incongruent. And although McCain and Palin has many views I personally disagree with, they have a lot of views I DO agree with. Between the two, I actually believe McCain and Palin WILL take action for change while Obama is still talking about it.

    September 4, 2008 01:25 am at 1:25 am |
  18. Chris from NY

    I didn't watch the speech but I watched analysts disect the speech. From what I heard the Republicans are good at distorting facts to suit their motive. Put division in a Country known as United States of America. Divide and conquer is what they do best. They never said anything about how they are going to help me as Civil Service worker. I owned a house for 12 years but lost it sometime this year eventhough I have two full time job. And yet they never said anything that could help me with my economic condition. What is there to say. Is my life any different from that of someone in the surburbs? May be if you are an old white guy who probably doesn't like change.

    September 4, 2008 01:25 am at 1:25 am |
  19. Daniel So Cal

    I liked the presentation of her speech, but, I think her past is about to catch up to her. Biden once said that every sentence from Giulianni contained "a noun, a verb, and 9/11." I can say the same about McCain: every sentence contains a noun, a verb, and POW.

    September 4, 2008 01:26 am at 1:26 am |
  20. Dalila

    Sara Palin: Be cautios, just see what happenned to Hillary!!! That kind of politics is not "in fashion" in 2008.

    September 4, 2008 01:26 am at 1:26 am |
  21. CDM Obama '08

    Watching Gov. Palin speak tonight, with my wife at my side and my 11 week-old daughter in my arms, it was tempting to get emotional about the historic aspect of this woman's sudden and fascinating political rise. Then, she started speaking. The shrill, smug, and often downright mean tone she took as she leveled often untrue and unfair attacks at Sens. Obama and Biden, the Democrats, and even community organizers, was enough to make me squirm. The kind of "red meat" political theater put on by Gov. Palin was divisive and polarizing, which is in perfect concert with many of the tactics used so successfully by Karl Rove and the Republican Party over the last 8 years. My concern, as I look into my daughter's eyes and face the real-life uncertainties of her generation's future, is what good does this kind of angry, snarling rhetoric do? How does it help the average American and the real struggles we face every day? What specific policies do she and her running mate intend to implement that will make the lives of those of us in Middle America with which she supposedly identifies so well? I can only pray that these tactics are tired and worn-out, and that Americans have the sense to see through this and stop listening to these dangerous attempts to replace talking about real solutions with simply attacking and deriding one's political opponents. Nothing less than my daughter's future is at stake.

    September 4, 2008 01:26 am at 1:26 am |
  22. Jeff

    Obama was criticized for being "not black enough" because he didn't hew the traditional line on "African American issues." That trivialized his broader appeal and once it became clear that he could actually win, African Americans swung behind his campaign.

    Sarah Palin is, in essence, being criticized for being "not female enough," where "female" implies pro-choice, anti-gun, entitlements, and a prominent government role in family life. That trivializes her broader appeal.

    Forget her gender for a moment and take a look at the package. She hits the same cross-section of the voting populace that Reagan did: socially conservative, but equally appealing to the dirt-under-the-fingernails workers of both parties. She is very comfortable in front of the camera and talks to the individuals listening, not the crowd, as if she were sitting at their dinner table. Unlike Reagan, she has a family, and commitment to family, that will resonate with all voters regardless of policy and party. She conveys strength – this barracuda clearly has teeth.

    You may be right about those suburban women – today. But what about in late October if it looks like this hockey mom may actually win, and on merit, and stand as the first woman to be the proverbial heartbeat away from the presidency?

    September 4, 2008 01:26 am at 1:26 am |
  23. RS

    Depends, if the McCamp controls her image to be Mrs Smith goes to Washington, then a chunk of suburban America may fall in love with her considerable charm. If her image comes out as a Creationist, who believes in no abortion even in the case of rape, incest, who really wasn't much of a reformer after all, then she can kill suburbia goodbye.

    Interesting to see who if anyone wins this experience battle. This "executive" experience argument is interesting. Will anyone buy that it makes her especially qualified except those who already want to believe? We'll see.

    September 4, 2008 01:26 am at 1:26 am |
  24. finally interested in this election

    I live in the midwest in a small town of about 25,000, and honestly didn't think I was interested in voting. I now know that I am. I now have a reason. Her name is Sarah Palin. Incredible speech.

    September 4, 2008 01:27 am at 1:27 am |
  25. Carol

    On "Larry King" tonight after Palin's speech Stephanie Miller accused Palin of using her family as a prop. I find it amusing that if she had not brought her family on stage as any candidate would do, she would have been accused of distancing herself or being ashamed of them after all the unfair democratic attacks! The democrats can't have it both ways. Nobody has five children for a political prop! Sarah Palin would not have had to spend so much time defending herself and family if it wasn't for all these double standard liberal attacks!

    September 4, 2008 01:27 am at 1:27 am |
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