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. Janet from Michigan

    My hope is that she will not appeal to the majority of rural, suburban, and urban voters. In these stressful economic times, people need solutions, not divisiveness and pettiness. Her idea of governing is to further her agenda of anti-abortion, anti-gun control, and all the other neoconservatism issues, in addition to OIL, OIL, OIL- Alaskan oil, that is. What about health care, education and jobs? I am sure that there are small town voters who have concerns about these issues.
    What scares me is her seemingly tendency toward abuse of her power to get rid of people who do not share or get in the way of her agenda. Above the law-sound familiar?

    September 4, 2008 03:18 am at 3:18 am |
  2. Joe M

    I was frankly horrified at the level of just flat out hatefulness in her speech. It was really startling and off putting to me. I came away from her speech thinking this is Cheney times two, and the absolute last thing the country needs right now.

    It just seems the whole convention so far has been hate, hate hate.

    I wish they would talk about solutions or ideas instead of who to blame and who to hate. But I suppose if they had to talk about solutions they would be forced to admit there was a problem and it seems the whole convention is determined to pretend as if the last eight years never existed. It's the culture wars all over again. Ugh.

    September 4, 2008 03:19 am at 3:19 am |
  3. Katie

    This was disgraceful and mean spirited and frankly terrifying. This is what we are supposed to compare to the message of Obama? As a woman the more I hear and see of her and the more I find out what kind of person she is -it is more than appalling. Please do us all a favor and be sure and vett this maniac more and do your job. We do not need the female version of Bush.

    September 4, 2008 03:19 am at 3:19 am |
  4. Gale

    Undoubtedly Ms. Palin will have some measure of appeal in suburban America (specifically with the somewhat sizable segment of unhappy females Hillary supporters who voted for her primarily based on gender). As a former Hillary supporter (because of her positions – and admittedly also because of President Clinton), Ms. Palin has limited appeal to me.

    September 4, 2008 03:19 am at 3:19 am |
  5. Adam Theo

    I think suburban families will take to Sarah Palin, definitely. And I don't think she came off as rude or arrogant at all. Attacking in some times, yes, of course. Every convention speech (including the ones at the DNC) have negative attack spots in them. I think the majority of people here on this thread who say they can't stand Sarah Palin are pretty obviously made up their minds very strongly in favor of the democratic nominee, and just want to bring down the republican ones.

    September 4, 2008 03:20 am at 3:20 am |
  6. Glue

    I don't understand the politics of Pro-Life.

    If you're a Republican who advocates smaller government then why would you want the GOVERNMENT telling you what you can and cannot do with your body? Didn't God give us free will? Why do you want government to take it away?

    To me it's simple. If you think abortion is a sin, then don't have one!

    But please don't tell others who may not share your beliefs what to do. This is a deeply personal issue. Every child should be loved and cherished and any child whose own mother doesn't love it enough to give birth to it is actually better off not being born!

    Rape victims should not have to prove that they were violated if they don't wish to feel a rapists fetus kicking them from within... Think about it!

    Americans deserve choice. And they'll surely shy away from choosing those who would take that choice from them.

    Palin is no Hillary Clinton folks... So don't be fooled!

    September 4, 2008 03:22 am at 3:22 am |
  7. Mike, San Jose, CA

    i have a mother. I love her to death. She can't be president. Guess what, Sarah? We ALL have mothers. What makes you so special?

    September 4, 2008 03:23 am at 3:23 am |
  8. CJ

    Granted, I live in arguably the most liberal city in the country, San Francisco, but I am absolutely at a loss for words when thinking that this person could be just a heartbeat away from being leader of the free world. I would love to have a woman president, but I think she lacks the tact and grace that I would expect to see from someone representing our country at that level. Being a pit bull isn't the job description. Getting in Washington and shaking things up is just part of things. We need someone who can bring dignity back to the White House, and I shudder to think this is who we'd suggest.

    I think there could be a great job for her in our government but not as our vice president or God forbid, our president. I think if that happened, people would wake up and ask themselves, "What have we done?"

    September 4, 2008 03:24 am at 3:24 am |
  9. Nic

    rj states, "Dont you get it David, Christians and people with integrity dont care what the "popular majority" think. Abortion IS the WRONG ANSWER!"

    Unfortunately for you, it's the "popular majority" that wins the election.

    September 4, 2008 03:24 am at 3:24 am |
  10. Mark

    Obama's first executive decision: Joe Biden, Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, and chief negotiator in the Balkans.

    McCain's first executive decision: Sarah Palin. Mayor of village of 6000 with degree in journalism, and governor for 18 months of a state with lower population than Columbus, OH.

    It's clear who has the judgement to be President.

    September 4, 2008 03:25 am at 3:25 am |
  11. Lisa

    I mean.. I have to wonder does she appeal to small town voters.. heck any voters.. I'm sure McCain's camp are already calling families in small towns that will let Palin stand on the back of their pickup truck in front of their home and give her next speech..

    September 4, 2008 03:26 am at 3:26 am |
  12. Drew

    I live in the suburbs, and I'm a supporter. I have never voted Republican in my life, but I will in November. Gov. Palin was very effective at poking holes in Obama's charade of lies and deception. By the way, I am not alone. In my neighborhood, I know of several McCain supporters and only one or two Obama supporters. And it's a racially mixed suburb, with many black voters voting for McCain. I'm excited about November. MCCAIN/PALIN '08!

    September 4, 2008 03:26 am at 3:26 am |
  13. Angie

    Short answer – Yes! At least to those of us who don't vote on single issue topics. This working suburban mother appreciates Palin's strong, independent nature. She is what all feminist should strive to be. We may not agree on every single issue, but women every where should be free to choose their path. We can have it all and Sarah Palin has shown that is possible. As far as people thinking she is a bit sarcastic, perhaps some need a little thicker skin.

    September 4, 2008 03:26 am at 3:26 am |
  14. Sarah Bell, Cleveland, OH

    SARAH PALIN IS DICK CHENEY WITH LIPSTICK!!! Can't wait for the 3rd day of the klan convention tomorrow. Can't wait for McFear to tell me who I should be afraid of and why he'll protect my scared butt. The fearful right have nothing left. Game over. Sarah Palin. Just Dick Cheney with lipstick.

    Sarah Bell, Cleveland, OH.

    September 4, 2008 03:26 am at 3:26 am |

    I think she is a voice for the exterm right. I think she is a very ugly person.

    September 4, 2008 03:26 am at 3:26 am |
  16. Vernon

    As a disable veteran who lost his eyesight while fighting for this country, I have a few things to say about tonight:

    1.) I heard a lot about how we should be proud of our troops and the great service they have done and are doing, but I heard nothing about what Palin is going to do for me or for them when they are no longer fighting. In fact, I heard no real substance at all. What about the economy? What about a realistic way to lower gas prices right now? What about the price of groceries? What about how they are going to keep people in their homes?

    2.) Campbell Brown was accused of being too harsh on Palin yesterday. Today, she is defending her because someone used the word "shrill." I have always admired CNN for being non partisan, but I questioned that tonight. No one wanted to talk about how harsh the speakers were on Obama and his wife. I just had to wonder if the speakers hadn't mentioned how bias the media was being so many times, would the narrative been different?

    3.) If McCain happens to win, is Palin going to sell AF1 on ebay?

    September 4, 2008 03:27 am at 3:27 am |
  17. janice

    democrates are just as rude.....Sara was great....she said so much that other people would have loved to say but didn't have the guts...she is the average American woman ...we are very impressed with her.. most moms are like pitbulls....

    September 4, 2008 03:27 am at 3:27 am |
  18. Jon

    Shella, what are you talking about, that Palin doesn't have any experience? She's got more executive experience than Obama, Biden, and McCain put together! She's had to make actual decision without the luxury of being able to vote "present." Her decisions not only affect the residents of Alaska, but also the entire country in the way of our domestic oil supply.

    And to those who think she'll cry Sexism when the Dems come back on her, she's never played the sexist card in her entire career, so I don't think she'll start now.

    September 4, 2008 03:28 am at 3:28 am |
  19. Isabella, California

    I thought CNN did a great job, and most analysts on all of the networks thought Sarah Palin did a good job for what she needed to achieve for her party, it doesn't mean they agree with what she said.

    David, I have occasionally voted for a Republican, but this time I will vote for Obama. I think Palin is intriguing but much too conservative and militant for my taste, but it was quite a rip-roaring speech, kind of fun, but also made me cringe at some of her more sarcastic remarks about Obama. She will be a Republican star but I'm tired of the "culture wars", so that kind of hyped up rhetoric doesn't appeal to me at all. This country needs to become less divided and angry, not more.

    September 4, 2008 03:28 am at 3:28 am |
  20. steve

    Its the ISSUES stupid!

    September 4, 2008 03:28 am at 3:28 am |
  21. Pru McDonald

    Now we know why she's called Sarah Barracuda... She fights dirty!

    Saucy, yes, but smug and arrogant and sarcastic. Said nothing about issues that are important to all of us, but lots of cheap shots that were personal and nasty. She delivered her speech well, though it was obviously written by others... something she learned when she was a TV sports announcer. And VERY misleading about her background in Alaska politics.

    I strongly sense that this lady is really no "lady" in the finer sense of the word, and can't wait to see that smirky expression wiped off her face in a real debate.

    September 4, 2008 03:28 am at 3:28 am |
  22. Jenn

    I think by the reactions so far it's clear who reads CNN.

    September 4, 2008 03:28 am at 3:28 am |
  23. Rob

    Unfortunately, I believe it will play very well in all the places the Republicans must have to win. Her target population will respond quite well to her "down home" small town charm and she will play well in the suburbs which are run by the PTA, soccer/hockey moms who are frustrated by the lack of a female political voice. I can't believe we are going to be allowed to watch all this unfold before us free of charge. I would pay to watch the next 60 some days. I am curious about one aspect of CNN's coverage: every 90 seconds a little flag appeared on the bottom of the TV screen reminding all of us about McCain's bouts with skin cancer. However, I have not heard nor seen a word about Biden's brain cancer. By the way, Joe doesn't wear lipstick to my knowledge, but he is ever much the pit bull as Ms. Sarah.

    September 4, 2008 03:29 am at 3:29 am |
  24. jayxt

    Obama was on the streets in Big City America actually helping people while McCain was having lunch with a lobbyist and Palin was dressing out a Moose.

    End of story

    September 4, 2008 03:29 am at 3:29 am |
  25. Gale

    Undoubtedly Ms. Palin will have some measure of appeal in suburban America (specifically with the somewhat sizable segment of unhappy females Hillary supporters who voted for her primarily based on gender). As a former Hillary supporter (because of her positions – and admittedly also because of President Clinton), Ms. Palin has limited appeal to me.

    September 4, 2008 03:30 am at 3:30 am |
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