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. NY Observer

    With all the Colleges and Universities in this country, most American living in this country are functionally illiterate. It is this sad reality Republicans have taken advantage of election after election. They are getting ready to do the same this election and sadly ignorance will probably prevale. I am not a Democrat, niether am I a Republican however Base on what I have observed, untill Democrats learn to play head games as well as the Republicans , the will continue to loose elections.

    September 4, 2008 02:31 am at 2:31 am |
  2. M. Brody

    Hope CNN is listening. I'm a single suburban mother of 3, own my own business, am a staunch Roman Catholic. I was not going to vote for McCain until Gov. Palin was brought onto the ticket. I watched her speech. She's exactly what the country needs and just the remedy for what ails the Republican party. Not shrill. Real equanimity. Yes sarcastic. But good, not hateful. She's a winner!

    September 4, 2008 02:32 am at 2:32 am |
  3. nicci

    I heard her and I think the Republicans have been brilliant in lowering expectations when really Palin is an excellent speaker and presenter. She's a double edged sword, however.The question is whether her rough edges will ultimately appeal or pall. Unfortunately, her limitations re. experience and exposure strike fear into the hearts of all who cherish meritocracy. I'm an Obama voter but I think the woman has a future, whether in this election or a future one.

    September 4, 2008 02:32 am at 2:32 am |
  4. marcos

    Wow cnn and msnbc are so biased and afraid of Palin she's got my vote.

    September 4, 2008 02:32 am at 2:32 am |
  5. Jamie

    I think many of you are looking for substance coming out of a VP when it's the candidate for president that needs to offer substance. If she put any real substance in the speech the news would make her words out to be the words of McCain. Pay attention to McCains speech tomarrow before you jump to conclusions. A VP has very little to give on policy decisions. They do not hold a VETO pen and their only influence in legislation is when they must act as a tie breaker in the Senate. Stop trivializing the process and expecting the VP nominee to offer substance that would be held against McCain.

    Think about it like this. If I you are my manager and I am a supervisor. As a supervisor I tell you that you can take tomarrow off without having knowledge of the agenda that the manager has. Than I've just overstepped my bounds and undermined the manager. Let McCain lay out the policy. The VP nominees on either side are of little significance.

    September 4, 2008 02:32 am at 2:32 am |
  6. Independant thinking

    Pitbull in Lipstick? In the oval office? Is that suppose to help us feel safe? Come on people, wake up. This woaman is a heartbeart away of being president of the United States of America. Can you imagine? God save us from the GOP.

    September 4, 2008 02:32 am at 2:32 am |
  7. bei

    Let's not forget that all but 18 months of Ms. Palin's "experience" consists of being mayor of a town smaller than 10,000 inhabitants (probably including the local bears)...that's like Clint Eastwood running for President based on being mayor of Carmel by the Sea (except we like him better). Give me a break. I have not heard one Republican talk about the problems that their party has created over the last 8 years. Do they think that the american public is stupid enough to get caught up in false rhetoric and accusations of the Democrats such as "angry left" and big government. Look in the mirror..and btw, I'll take big govt over CORRUPT government.

    September 4, 2008 02:33 am at 2:33 am |
  8. Yvonne

    David, rural people are generous and accepting. Palin came off as nasty, condescending, mocking and rude. I doubt she appeals there and she sure as heck won't appeal in the burbs.

    September 4, 2008 02:33 am at 2:33 am |
  9. Karla

    and it still doesn't matter.....

    September 4, 2008 02:33 am at 2:33 am |
  10. AZM

    I found Palin's speech high on rhetoric and lacking in substance. I'm tired of attacks, I want answers on how America can be the great country that the world looked up to, aspired to be and to be in. I am ashamed of the America Iive in now because of the politicians who think I am so stupid that I will fall for the distractions of the attack-dog politics. ENOUGH! I want to take back America fromt he Bushes, Cheneys, the McCains, the Karl Roves and yes, the Palins.

    September 4, 2008 02:33 am at 2:33 am |
  11. Sebastien, from Kamloops, B.C.


    If "suburban America" believe the Earth is 5000 years old, are against women's right to choose, and rather launch childish and sarcastic slander than to talk about the economy.

    September 4, 2008 02:33 am at 2:33 am |
  12. robby10001

    Palin has no appeal to suburban independents whatsoever. Most of us have at least a little knowledge about politics, and that's all it takes to know she's just an act of smoke and mirrors, more like a freak show really. She can take her bridge to nowhere just where it leads her, but I for one will not follow.

    September 4, 2008 02:33 am at 2:33 am |
  13. Doug from Cali

    I grew up in a small town and now live in suburbia, I don't think she will appeal to anyone other than those who already have there mind made up. I don't get the praise. A very pedestrian speech and a typical blind reaction.

    September 4, 2008 02:34 am at 2:34 am |
  14. mike

    She has nothing in common with the other 49 states at all.


    They can't.

    Palin is done.

    September 4, 2008 02:34 am at 2:34 am |
  15. Gary

    A few quick thoughts - Sarah Palin really showed she's up for a battle ... I had hoped the divisive war was over.
    Only part she screwed up was the joke - told correctly, it's "What's the difference between Dick Cheney and Sarah Palin? Answer: Lipstick.
    Oh year, the other difference is that Sarah Palin's view of foreign affairs is that it's all driven by God's plan that will culminate in the Last Days when Alaska becomes one of the refuges for the saved - this is not a joke or a snide comment, just a reiteration of the "testimony" I saw in her presentation to a church school group, available on YouTube. Scary stuff.
    The Republican party tosses around the word "evil" but doesn't define it. Evil empire, evil this and that. I must have heard it at least a dozen times tonight. That sounds like a religious term, the Anglo version of "infidel". How so many people get so many conflicting messages from the Almighty I don't know, and I don't understand why so many innocents need to die as a result of all those messages. I just wish people could think and talk.
    John McCain is a war hero. John Kerry is a war hero. Republicans want us all to make McCain POTUS because he's a hero. Four years ago (when the Republican incumbent candidate was arguably not too different from being a draft-dodger), they slandered Kerry about his heroism. Funny how these all-important Republican values change depending on the election cycle.

    September 4, 2008 02:34 am at 2:34 am |
  16. CO

    She'll undoubtedly appeal to self-professed rednecks. According to his YouTube posting, her future son-in-law is a redneck who doesn't like kids. He'll make a great dad to Sarah's future grandchild. Also, why is Palin's four month old baby being used as a prop for political events. Wouldn't pictures suffice?

    September 4, 2008 02:35 am at 2:35 am |
  17. JI

    Rudy Giuliani and Sarah Palin make a good pair ! Both are arrogant, rude and overly impressed with themselves. Sad thing is how the audience bought into all of this. Hopefully, the majority of the voters rise above this low bid behavior. and realize how our great nation must look to the rest of the world. And, do the right thing when they go to the polls, and NOT support the Republican ticket. The Republican campaign just seems so angry and militant.

    September 4, 2008 02:35 am at 2:35 am |
  18. Kelly Castro

    She will absolutely play out in suburban America. I am convinced there is a bunch of people coordinating these comments on the blogs. I live in suburban Cleveland which is very liberal trust me she connects to people here. I was 100% sure Kerry would win in 2004. Everyone I knew voted for him. Most people here don't like either party so they will go with who they identify with most. She is extremely likeable and if she didn't come out tough the media would be saying is she tough enough. I will probably vote for McCain although I have nothing against Obama and generally think well of him and Michelle. 100% guarantee that McCain wins Ohio.

    September 4, 2008 02:35 am at 2:35 am |
  19. TFC

    "Seriously" Is exactly what I said the first day they introduced Palin as VP and I say again "Seriously".
    This is a joke and we are really going to hear from the real plans of the Republican Party, so we can compare to the Democratic Party.

    I was so disappointed to think that Mc Cain / Palin really don't have a plan. The sad thought is that they could end up in the white house
    without a clue!

    September 4, 2008 02:35 am at 2:35 am |
  20. Lisa from VA

    I am a 45 yr old white husband is blue collar....we are conservative christian...just the people she was talking to...and I am ashamed to say, as a christian, that I just cannot stand that woman. I don't know why but I just can't. I voted for Bush twice but I cannot vote with her on the ticket. I think she is full of herself, full of baloney, and a bad mother to boot. Not to mention rude and arrogant as others have said. Its like she thinks she's better than the rest of us. I bet when other peoples teenage daughters got pregnant she talked about them and how they weren't following her abstinence teachings. Yuck is all I have left to say about Sarah Palan at the moment. I'm sure I'll think of more stuff later.

    September 4, 2008 02:35 am at 2:35 am |
  21. Charles

    No. Not in suburbia or anywhere else parents are raising children with special needs. In a speech dominated by insults and bullying was a promise to parents that when she is Vice President we will have an advocate in Washington. As a life long educator and a parent of a 17 year old with special needs I would offer that she has a ways to go before she can brand herself an advocate. Given her sons age it would be unlikely she can appreciate how much change she and her family will face in the years to come. My own family has moved from a long time home and given up career opportunities to give our son the chance he deserves. Children with special needs don't understand sarcasm and need all the positive roll modeling they can get. I'd make a bet that if her son was 14 years old instead of an infant she wouldn't let him within a mile of such a negative social situation much less being a main contributor. Maybe the Republicans like the idea of a pit bull with lipstick but we in the business of advocating for children with special needs are looking for someone who knows the score.

    September 4, 2008 02:35 am at 2:35 am |
  22. KLM

    She is making women look vindictive and catty. I'm a woman and we don't have to always have to be hard and catty. Can she talk about her stances on things. My gosh. Even Romney, Guilianni and Huckabee were extremely catty. Now, I understand they have to attack their opponents and it's only fair since the Dems did also but to talk down about community activists. I'd rather have a person that has worked with a community (larger than Wasilla) than someone tooting being head of the PTA. She's an insult to women and no Hillary Clinton.


    September 4, 2008 02:36 am at 2:36 am |
  23. Don, SF

    Boy, lots of Obama's paid staff on these boards as usual. Obama fanatics think that the is "above" it all, that's why people think he is elitist. Fact is, he throws low and dirty like everyone else, he's just not as good at it. Palin was great, This come from a Dem. who supported Clinton and will sit out this November.

    September 4, 2008 02:36 am at 2:36 am |
  24. petra

    I am a mother and I work. I also volunteer at a church run soup kitchen organized by community organizers.

    I have to say I was terribly offended by the negative tone Ms Palin took to those of us who volunteer to make life better for others. As a fellow Christian I would expect a better response from her.

    But it seems like Gov. Palin's prevalent tone is that of rudeness, negativity and downright meanspirited. If I had to draw an analogy, she reminds me of cheerleaders I went to school with that used to pick on those less fortunate.

    I'm sorry but I'm not happy with this selection at all, and the prospect of her actually being President makes me lean towards the Obama/Biden ticket now.

    I'm not completely thrilled with all their policies but at least they are taking the high road.

    September 4, 2008 02:36 am at 2:36 am |
  25. Christopher

    The speech tonight was not exactly what I expected, I figure they were going to attack but not at the level they did. I was dirty mud slinging but hey that politics.

    The thing that upset me the most wasnt the attacks on Obama's experience but the fact that Palin stated BOLDLY that community organizers have no responsabilities. To say the people that run homless shelters, soup kitchens, The Boys and Girls Club, any and all community organizations dont have responsabilites is a slap to their faces and every one that has volunteered for these organization that help Americans in all walks of life..

    In these rough times community leaders are the only leaders that a great number of Americans look to. The government is not helping them but these community organization are doing all they can. Maybe I am taking this comment and those other comments belittling community leaders in the other speeches tonight to far, I would love to hear feed back but to say the least I am outraged.

    September 4, 2008 02:36 am at 2:36 am |
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