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. Karen

    A Mormon, a transvestite, a Democrat and a hockey mom walk into a bar. . . .!!? Are you kidding me? What a joke! This is the best the Republican party has to offer? Though, compared with the first three, no wonder Republicans are ecstatic about Sarah Palin. If you were paying attention to the men in the crowd at the RNC the night John McCain announced her as his choice, though, they were confused and displeased. I have no doubt they'll drink the Kool-Aid rather than vote for a Democrat. Hey, guys, there's always Nader. And any Hillary supporters who would vote for McCain because of Sarah Palin, shame on you! How dare you insult her like that?

    September 4, 2008 03:30 am at 3:30 am |
  2. Ethicist#1

    No she will not appeal to suburban America. She will appeal to the hockey sticks.

    September 4, 2008 03:31 am at 3:31 am |
  3. Hal

    Dear Gov. Palin. You can't have representation without taxation. I heard, cut taxes, save jobs, and drill, drill, drill. Was that a 2% tax increase I saw in Wasilla during your tour as Mayor? Do you, or any other conservative base Republican realize that if we continue to Drill, Drill, Drill, there will be no more snow in Alaska for Todd to ride his gas guzzling, air polluting, snow machine on, because, let's face it (and not that you're willing to admit it), oil, gas, and coal are causing this little mess called, Global Warming. You promote cutting taxes. For who? We cut taxes, finance a war and rebuilding in Iraq, increase our national debt to over $9 Trillion (that TRILLION), and sell this debt to the Chinese. But that's okay. Cause we're giving them all our jobs also, so they can certainly afford it.

    September 4, 2008 03:31 am at 3:31 am |

    This group of Democrats will now support Sarah Palin.

    What a phenomenal woman!

    September 4, 2008 03:32 am at 3:32 am |
  5. andy

    you are an idiot!

    September 4, 2008 03:33 am at 3:33 am |
  6. Eric

    I see Palin's appeal as more psychographic than demographic. Intelligent, sensitive people were perhaps entertained and sympathetic. (I thought it was a great speech!) But it was all fluff and swagger. People who are taken in by swagger will buy it hook line and sinker. These people are in suburbia too (although much fewer in urban areas). And I imagine there are people in small town and rural America who will also not be taken in (but maybe not that many).

    I've implied people taken in by her speech are stupid, and here are a couple points on that. Palin talked about cleaning up Washington. Who messed it up? Republicans over the last 8 years. Which is her party? And she talks about change? Did Republicans favor change before Obama made it a winning message? This is just at the top level. We could go on to debunk most of the claims she made.

    September 4, 2008 03:34 am at 3:34 am |
  7. Kage1149

    Voters will send this hick back to the sticks of Alaska. She is more of the same kind of Republican we have had for eight years, nasty, snide, sarcastic, rigid, small minded, under educated and just plain wrong about the issues – which by the way she barely mentioned. Her entire speech was a shrill attack ad. No wonder McCain picked her – she is just like him – negative and mean – certainly not inspirational.

    September 4, 2008 03:34 am at 3:34 am |
  8. Time to move on

    All republicans has to offer is abuse,war and economic downturn.But i will be surprised if American people fall for it.Abuse doesnt bring back the jobs,it doesnt solve healthcare and education.American people are wiser than that.Nice try though.

    September 4, 2008 03:34 am at 3:34 am |
  9. Robert R Larocque

    PALIN was a total winner and I'll say that the average North American voters are 'Total idiots', always! Hillary was our next best bet but you bunch of idiots go for the "trendy' / groupy! Obama so you'll fit in the crowd! Losers!

    September 4, 2008 03:35 am at 3:35 am |
  10. Republican Mama

    I think she did great, she stood up and played ball with the big boys! She is a strong woman, and that scares all of you in the left.... look out there is a new woman coming to Washington, and she's going to shake up this town!

    September 4, 2008 03:35 am at 3:35 am |
  11. Adam from Kentucky

    Did anyone else catch that fact that Palin's husband is an Oilman? You really want another person with ties to Big Oil in the whitehouse? And why did the republicans (Palin especially) bash obama about raising taxes?

    The fact that he will LOWER taxes for 95% of the country is the democrats major speaking point! Did Palin not watch the Democratic convention??

    September 4, 2008 03:36 am at 3:36 am |
  12. Heidi

    I don't think she'll appeal to suburban women, unless they're very Conservative. Her speech was only for the base, it was very mean and the tone was very off-putting. America doesn't know enough about her for her first introduction to us to be so very mean spirited. Who mocks community organizers? They work with our churches to feed people and get them jobs.

    Nor do I see how any Independents would be attracted to this speech. It has no specifics or anything positive about their party and their message and how they intended to fix the country. Not the least of which is the Constitution, which is very important to most Independents I know and yet she was mocking it. Big mistake.

    September 4, 2008 03:37 am at 3:37 am |
  13. John Hazelwood

    Like most all "politicians," she's a LOT of hot air and no substance – the thought of her being a heartbeat away from the presidency is terrifying.

    September 4, 2008 03:41 am at 3:41 am |
  14. Deli

    David, I have the utmost respect for you over any other pundit (I do love AC tho!) Your analysis are always almost perfect as you have the ability to see both sides extremely effectively. What I am furious most is her putting down 'community organizers' and her negativity. How is she going to win over moderate or liberal Indies?

    September 4, 2008 03:41 am at 3:41 am |
  15. J.V.Hodgson

    Dear Mr Gergen,
    A pure speech to the party base and faithful nothing else.
    The USA,USA,USA chant and country first headline and the constant POW stories, War veteran, patriotism banging as equalling Presidential skill, judgement and experience are music to the ears of Republican minded voters, but a touch invalid.
    The economy, taxes, energy, ( total lack of any social welfare commentary or policy) are more of the same Bush ideas from both Palin and McCain. They seriously miss out on the current increasing number of younger voters, education concerns and any realistic foreign policy/diplomacy (again the latter not seriously mentioned).
    Republicans want international power , respect and strength but only by Military supremacy, that is Republican diplomacy.
    That is why the rest of the world wants Obama to win. The so called war on terror is a guerilla type war, and history proves those are never really won until you negotiate with the other side which Bush and McCain+ Palin will not do.Terrorists are growing in numbers and staying in Iraq will only exacerbate that problem. A military so called victory is only 1/10th, the aftermath and subsequent results determine real Victory and that comes from diplomacy which often gets it wrong as well.. In what is now Iraq In the 1930's the Brits got it wrong and USA is falling into the same trap.
    My view for what it is worth is the "change" that Obama might pull off is the lesser risk than the "sovreign state" rights and policy of USA, USA, USA, country first ( they mean 2nd, 3rd and last as well) of Republicans In todays global world. The isolationism that implies is appalling, and watch America decline as did the British Empire only much more quickly.

    September 4, 2008 03:43 am at 3:43 am |
  16. Val

    you can be dismissive but she is a stong woman and she is not going down or going away.

    September 4, 2008 03:44 am at 3:44 am |
  17. Derek S.

    I think its also important to contrast the nasty, smug, and sarcastic tone of her speech with the level of discourse coming from Obama and Biden. The Dem ticket seeks to unite and be positive, McCain/Palin are again (like Bush) seeking to divide the country for political gain.

    September 4, 2008 03:44 am at 3:44 am |
  18. Eric

    Mean, racist, and sexist...ah the Grand Old Party at work.

    Who wrote her speech? Karl Rove or Dick Cheney?

    September 4, 2008 03:44 am at 3:44 am |
  19. jt

    NO from this suburban household. I was very disappointed in her speech. I am left with a lot of data on what the Democrats are doing wrong, yet nothing new on what the Republican plan is to make things right.

    I thought many of her remarks were very divisive, and sarcastic- meant to pit the rural voters against the urban and the suburban. It sure put a new spin on their whole “Country First” moto- do they intend to put our * entire* country first, or just her rural, country base? I want a leader who unites the entire nation, and not divides. She is not it.

    September 4, 2008 03:44 am at 3:44 am |
  20. Joel

    Mocking community organizers is a disgrace. It shows that she is out of touch with ordinary working people facing the today's challenges. I think sure, the speech was well crafted but had no substance about the issues, how we are going to lift this country, how we are going to improve the economy, etc. It is extremely irresponsible to mock the achievements of others for personal political gain.

    September 4, 2008 03:45 am at 3:45 am |
  21. John "Tony" Reynozo

    Alison- I have been to Costa Rica not a bad place. It is funny how during every election you hear that "If (Insert republican candidate name here) wins I am leaving the country".



    September 4, 2008 03:46 am at 3:46 am |
  22. Michael Newman

    Sarah Palin would do well to stay at home to take care of her infant son with Downs and her unwed pregnant daughter. That is what Family Values are all about. What total hypocracy she has demonstrated.

    September 4, 2008 03:46 am at 3:46 am |
  23. christian

    Amazing to watch the media elites fall over themselves praising this petty, mean-spirited and hollow woman smirk her way through a VP speech. What does she offer America besides platitudes? I can't believe that Americans will fall for her fundamentalist bitterness, but we'll see. The GOP delusion that she is some kind of Reagan is amazing.

    September 4, 2008 03:47 am at 3:47 am |
  24. debbie

    I thought the speech was mean and nasty. To attack community organizers is as low as it gets. I can't imagine that this woman will go well with the majority of American people (not the old white people at the convention)!!!

    September 4, 2008 03:48 am at 3:48 am |

    Palin shows that she is as sophmoric as they come. When she should speak and show intelligence, she resorts to base tactics often used by the bully on the school playground. I have seen this often, as a teacher. The bully who calls names and stirrs up things with quips and sarcasm is the student with low intelligence and self esteem. She is not VP material, and will hurt our national image throughout the world.

    September 4, 2008 03:48 am at 3:48 am |
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