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. Richmand

    As I Christian,I am really disappointed in Christianity in America today.No matter there is a huge trend of atheism and non religious in America. The republicans remind me of the pharisees in the Bible(hypociites) Sarah Palin suppose to have highfamily values, how come she could not even manage her kids.Why are evangelicals not complaining that a stauch Christian and value person could not raise a daughter and she sin by having premarital sex. The Bible only allow sex in marriage. Do you remember a couple of months ago about the high schools girls that had a plan to get pregnant? It was all on the news. Sarah Palin we want our daughter to grow up and avoid sex and pregancy and go to college and get married and have kids not kids having kids. You are proud of your kid having kid... Great religion and morals. Suburban America can not connect to your whack principles and priorities. How old is the baby dady? Is he a minor as well? How come the press is not covering that...

    September 4, 2008 01:40 am at 1:40 am |
  2. mike

    Maybe the ice covered suburbs! I thought she spoke and carried herself well and I was impressed by that. I was very disappointed that the first messages we received from her were attacks on Obama and nothing to address the problems of today. She didn't touch on any of the issues that working families are concerned about. This in keeping wit the republicans. They are oblivious to the problems the average Anmerican deals with. They talk a good game but have no solutions. At least the democrats spoke about issues whether you agree with them or not. I can't see how anyone could feel comfortable with Sarah Palin as second in charge. She is impressive but that is not nearly enough.

    September 4, 2008 01:40 am at 1:40 am |
  3. CHART

    I live in Idaho Falls, and she's not the type of woman who would be seen as admirable here. She needs to put her children first, and not just because her youngest will need extra care and love. And her nature does not seem reasonable, kind, forgiving, tolerant, or Christian. That's not a sexist remark; men in this region aspire to those values as well.

    September 4, 2008 01:40 am at 1:40 am |
  4. Pit bulls maime, scar, and kill

    Never trust a pit bull. They attack without provocation and leave their victims for dead just like the Republicans hope to do this November. The Republicans need to be euthanized this November once and for all time. Sic 'em Obama and Biden!

    September 4, 2008 01:40 am at 1:40 am |
  5. Suburban Mom

    She will be a hit with low information voters but suburban Americans, not so much. Nothing we hate more than a snarly and not too bright person. She could have hit the ball out of the park if she had cut back on the blatant and unnecessary insults. After her speech I felt disappointed because I expected more Hillary and less trailer park trash. Not a hit tonight.

    September 4, 2008 01:40 am at 1:40 am |
  6. Pillslee

    Until tonight I was undecided on who to vote for.
    Sarah Palin said nothing about issues. It was just a big slamming of the democrats. Nothing more! I'm voting for Obama

    September 4, 2008 01:41 am at 1:41 am |
  7. Ken

    What disturbs me is that whoever they trotted out as their selection
    would get the treatment Palin is getting – deserved or not. Which is
    utterly disappointing. Where is the integrity? McCain could have
    picked Britney Spears and them jugheads at the convention would
    have acted exactly the same. It's beyond belief that this country has
    devolved to this level. God and money have conspired to plunge us
    ever deeper in this hypocritical state. I just read where Palin believes
    god wants a natural gas pipeline built from Alaska to the lower 48.
    ummm – here we go again with the "I talk to God" leadership style.
    I don't know about you but I think these believers in god have done
    enough damage to this earth and her inhabitants, people, plants
    and animals. Believers or evangelicals need to go the way of
    the Dodo. Thats right I said it. It needs to be said and it needs to
    be done. If not they will run us into extinction. We need to wake up
    to this fact. And SOON!

    September 4, 2008 01:41 am at 1:41 am |
  8. UtahMama

    Sarah Palin is too extreme to appeal to mainstream US. Anyone who thinks that abortion rights should not be available for victims of rape obviously has not been victimized. And with her being against a woman's right to choose and against any sex education that is not abstinence based, is her situation what she has in mind for the rest of us? I certainly do not want a pregnant teenager!

    And anyone that needs to boost their high school and PTA activities as "experience" is certainly lacking all around.

    I think McCain just wiped out what little chance he had at winning in November with this irresponsible choice in a VP.

    September 4, 2008 01:41 am at 1:41 am |
  9. MB

    I hope that Americans will not in general rally around someone who was petty, snide, rude, angry, and nasty. I listened to the speech with an open mind as I previously knew nothing about her. I still don't know very much, other than that she can be divisive and viscious and that she has either been misled or lies well!

    September 4, 2008 01:41 am at 1:41 am |
  10. Independentandlovingit

    McCain's new ad puts another stitch in what we've called his pattern of deceit on Obama's tax plan. This one claims Obama and congressional Democrats plan to push forward "painful tax increases on working American families" and that they will bring about "years of deficits," "no balanced budgets" and "billions in new government spending."

    The ad is plain wrong about higher taxes on working families. In fact, Obama's economic plan would produce a tax cut for the majority of American households, with middle-income earners benefiting most. As for "years of deficits," exactly the same claim could be made about McCain's program. It's unlikely either Obama or McCain would balance the budget, and both are projected to increase the debt by trillions.

    We've already reported on at least three other ads, in both Spanish and English, from Sen. John McCain's campaign that distort his rival's tax policy. The ads claim that, for example, Democratic Sen. Barack Obama would raise taxes "on the sale of your home" and that he has a "history of raising taxes" and that he wanted to raise taxes on "families" making just $42,000 a year.

    Claims like these have led us to say that McCain's campaign is engaging in a "pattern of deceit" when it comes to describing Obama's tax plan. This most recent ad fits right into the template.

    September 4, 2008 01:42 am at 1:42 am |
  11. Jeff, Denver, CO

    Well, first I must say I am very disappointed in this speech. The republicans there, I'm sure, loved every minute of it. But, did she actually have substance? DId she quote any substanc eon John McCain? No. All she did was play with mud – so much in fact, alot of it got back on her. If you sit back, you'll observe that she epitomized juvenille behavior, making fun of someone she envies. Sit back and note that her town of 6 to 8 thousand has less people than seats in a typical college basketball stadium. And her state, one of the most non diverse in the entire country, has less people than live on Manhattan, or Minneapolis/St Paul for that matter. How can she claim she knew all her voters in her town and compare that to being knowledgeable about anything? That said – she'll play well to people who consider Topeka, KS and Fargo, ND to be the BIG CITY – but for those who actually have lived amongest the problems the Dems (and McCain USED to) – they will most likely be turned off...unless they were planning on voting that way all along. Don't even get me started on her foreign policy experience...boarding Russia...unreal.

    September 4, 2008 01:42 am at 1:42 am |
  12. CarenS

    Suburbia tuning in. Palin appeals to women because she is multi-faceted. More important is that she respects, defends, and values the multiple hats that women wear. It's not necessary to agree with everything she supports. There are some people that have a natural affinity for getting things done, solving problems, and constantly being challenged with learning curves. Not only that, they make it look like an effortless process. Those people are our everyday American women, who live in Anytown, USA:. Palin's style allows them to see some of themselves in her.

    September 4, 2008 01:42 am at 1:42 am |
  13. Tony

    No. She won't.

    September 4, 2008 01:42 am at 1:42 am |
  14. Andrew M.

    She may be funny but the idea of her as president is not. Yes, Obama and McCain should be evaluated by their choices of running mates. If anyone was undecided before...the choice of Palin should make it clear-McCain is unacceptable.

    September 4, 2008 01:43 am at 1:43 am |
  15. Alex

    Same old populist demogoguery about the elites and the media. The Republican Party has been whipping up this garbage for 40 years, starting with Nixon. While ostensibly championing the common man with their populist rhetoric, they have picked his pocket with tax breaks, deregulation and bailouts for corporate America and Wall Street. Not surprisingly, the common man's real income has stagnated and inequality of wealth is now as great as it was in the 1920s, just before the Great Depression. Hopefully, the electorate finally has wised up.

    September 4, 2008 01:43 am at 1:43 am |
  16. Highlyblessed

    The speech Palin gave tonight was for the Republican base ONLY. It did nothing to reach out to Independents and Democrats, as a matter of fact, it may have alienated them. As far as suburbans, probably. Most of the attendees looked like they were going to a high price luncheon or dinner, with their pearls and diamonds on. It looked so elitist and yet they keep trying to place that label on Obama, which is ridiculous.

    September 4, 2008 01:43 am at 1:43 am |
  17. melanie branon

    As a working mother, I'm thrilled that the public consciousness is addressing women in politics (sometimes graciously, sometimes patronizingly, sometimes stupidly–many tonight as exhibited by CNN men and women on that panel tonight). As a working mother, I'm insulted that people could think womean could shift affiliation with Hilary (and her issues) to Sarah (simply because she's female) and disappointed that we end up in 'mommy war' rhetoric instead of focusing on the election issues and qualifications (man or woman). And, btw, did Sarah's daughter exhibit 'choice' but mom is anti-same? Of course, rhetoric appears to be the real battle taking place here–and that, as a communications professional, I say 'kudos' to both teams who are doing great jobs in the perception/media battle. But as a Republican, I say, I'm switching.

    the CNN staff for their total support of the RNC, I usually like CNN for being fair but this date it was all about the RNC and being a women

    September 4, 2008 01:43 am at 1:43 am |
  18. Jane GA

    She is very very rude. I am a mother of four. she should not have attack obama or reid. I did vote for Mccain but listerneing to her I will not vote for Mccain again.
    She needs to respect her self
    When they will start attacking her now she will say is a sexit
    How can you be a vp when you can not even controll your chilren

    September 4, 2008 01:43 am at 1:43 am |
  19. bob in LA

    Her appeal and that of the Republicans will only be with the politically uneducated people that buy into their lies and name calling.
    McCain- Washington insider for 26 years- longer than most.
    Elitist Press- most news organization are owned by staunch consevatives or conservative corporations. Hardly liberal or elitist.
    With all their name calling, it was interesting to not hear the word BUSH- father or son even once! When the best they can do is go back to 1980 to find a leader, it doesn't say much about their party.
    And where is all this leadership they talk about from McCain? Why is it we are in the financial mess we're in? Why are we still dependent on foriegn oil? When he reaches accross the isle is anybody their from either party? If not, then how can he get anything doen from an office down the street.
    Wake up Republicans!

    September 4, 2008 01:44 am at 1:44 am |
  20. Dr R

    The tide and buzz has turned. Gov Palin appeals to Americans that care about the country and to "do-ers", not "talkers." She is an Executive level leader, she appears to be a wonderful Mom, and I am proud of Sen McCain for selecting her. Even CNN noticed this, and I for once was "proud" of CNN for giving credit where credit was due.

    September 4, 2008 01:44 am at 1:44 am |
  21. Victoria

    The republicans have created a paper dragon. Tonight was one of the ugliest nights that I can remember in recent politics. It was full of scorn, arrogance, bullying, nastiness,etc.
    I am a teacher and a mother of a child with special needs and I have three other children too. Right off, that kind of talk would not be allowed in a public school- we do not allow bullying, making fun of others, cracking wise jokes at other's expense and being generally nasty.
    Kids who behaved the way the republicans did tonight would find themselves doing community service to learn about respect.

    As a parent of a child with special needs, one of the things that you learn is that you model the behavior that you wish for your child to exhibit. This is social intelligence. It takes years of work.

    September 4, 2008 01:44 am at 1:44 am |
  22. kelly

    Thank you! Palin for going out there and making it clear you are so unqualified!!

    September 4, 2008 01:44 am at 1:44 am |
  23. Polo Quiros

    Her sarcastic attack and mockery of Obama leaves me cool and disinterested in anything she will say from now on. She does not represent change and offered nothing about the economy. McCain-Palin equals Bush III, and who in his right mind would want four more years of that.

    September 4, 2008 01:44 am at 1:44 am |
  24. Obama 08: 60, white, female.

    David: I think you insult rural America. These are hardworking, decent Americans who want solutions and hope in their lives. I believe no matter where you come from, the mjority of voters want someone who has judgement, vision an who believes in them Tonight they saw an arrogance that was condescending ang hateful by a "closed shop" of self righteous speakers and participanta.

    The Republican party, the pollsters and analysts like you are falsely "tagging" voters instead of doing what Obama does and sees their common goodness, aspirations and decency.

    Red meat as you like to call it does not futher anything except the smallness of the person delivering it. I was truly so disgusted I could not watch i and am getting a flavour of ti online.

    September 4, 2008 01:45 am at 1:45 am |
  25. David

    Don't you guys get it? The McCain ticket is the "Change" ticket. They both have a track record of going against mainstream government and thats where this country needs the change.

    September 4, 2008 01:45 am at 1:45 am |
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