Is “Rube” Sarah Palin Redefining E-Campaigning?

December 6, 2009

For all the talk of Sarah Palin being a rube, just a backward waif from Wasilla, Alaska, few seem to appreciate that she, more than any other rumored 2012 Republican nominee, has mastered the cutting edge art of e-Campaigning simply by being herself and employing the very latest in e-Tech to great effect.

Granted, she currently has star power the others don't enjoy, but while Huckabee has a TV show, Romney and others stroll halfway down Olympus to write an oped for the Wall Street Journal once in a while, Palin is using a fan blog, Facebook and Twitter to feed and grow her significant influence across the Right on-line. And the fact is, she was doing it even before her best selling book and subsequent tour.

With little more than that, no hundred thousand dollar DC e-consultants in tow, Sarah Palin has made herself into Obama's chief antagonist from the Right. Talk about stripping away the media filter, or going over the media's heads? Every time Obama launches another new initiative, there is Sarah Palin on her Facebook page trying to knock it down.

Newt probably hasn't even gotten around to scheduling his latest Sunday news show appearance on some new Obama plan and Palin has already made her opposition known in straight-forward words almost before the New York Times can tell us how wonderful Obama's latest idea sure is.

But she's the alleged unqualified rube? I'm not so sure. I've observed Gingrich use Twitter to tweet what a grand time he's having over dinner with James Carville, much to the chagrin of the Republican base. Meanwhile, nearly every Palin tweet or Facebook post is targeted to speak to the very people reading there, giving them precisely what they want to read, or hear in promotional, or political terms.

The smartest people in the room tend to be early adapters. More than that, they tend to be those that master and successfully exploit the latest of the greatest, the newest of the new. Sarah Palin is the unchallenged, though not unopposed, champion in that regard on the Right for now.

It's going to take far more than the latest obsessed rant from Andrew Sullivan, or Keith Olbermann, to convince me Palin is someone who doesn't know what she's doing. And whatever it is she's doing, it seems to work and not cost her very much. Only a dumb, or out of step politician, or pundit would criticize that, let alone not acknowledge it as seems to be the case with the media and her opponents.

So, just who really are the rubes in all this? Given our New Media age, it certainly isn't looking like Sarah Palin is one.

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  1. unseen says:

    I think you are correct on this. I use the shorthand that Sarah is playing chess while her enemies are playing checkers

  2. ThomasD says:

    Even if she doesn’t run (or does but doesn’t gain the nod outright) she’s still setting herself up to be kingmaker.

  3. The image of Indiana Jones facing the flashy swordsman comes to mind … while her opponents attempt to impress everyone with their political gyrations, Sarah keeps it simple … aim, and fire.
    For effect.

  4. Meadow says:

    “Sarah keeps it simple … aim, and fire”
    Or, “type, type…send!”
    All the rest can do is ‘DUCK’!

  5. I’m as base a GOP member as you can find, and I’m not chagrined about Newt’s tweeting My Dinner with Carville. Newt has nothing to do with the GOP base and hasn’t for a long damn time… certainly since he started making global warming commercials with Pelosi.

  6. Scott Bertilson says:

    Heh, bravo for Sarah!
    Can’t wait to see what will happen when the FEC (Federal Elections Commission) notices these media starting to have an effect on elections – campaign finance law will hopefully just become more and more archaic and irrelevant, a monument to the foolishness in the Senate.

  7. defendAmerica says:

    great post! But, FYI… is not affiliated in any way with Governor Palin.

  8. Larry says:

    Don’t forget about SarahPac. All indications are, she is really raking it in.

  9. narciso says:

    Right, They only publicize her events, and link to relevant topics, but all from open sources, although it seems she occasionally takes the advice suggested. The course she took, after July 3rd, was similar to the arguments of a few of the more vociferous commenters, but that came from a different source

  10. Peg C. says:

    Palin will help accelerate the Drive-Bys’s irrelevancy, which can only be a good thing. It’s way past time to go to the source for news and skip the snark and spin of a media incapable of simply delivering the news. Palin’s tweets and FB posts are intended for the BASE.
    And I’m with R. McEnroe on the Newt comment. Newt is so last century, and the base has left him behind. There’s nothing last century about Palin.

  11. I have a very hard time believing that there are people out there who think Palin is “politically astute” or has “great political intuition.­”
    She has had forty-four years to strengthen her resume on all fronts — foreign policy, economic awareness, civil rights, etc. As a mayor and governor, she could have actually grown in areas that are required for high public office. She could learned to contribute real ideas other than “Drill, baby, drill.”
    As it is, she is nothing more than a mean, bigoted and ignorant person.

  12. unseen says:

    As it is, she is nothing more than a mean, bigoted and ignorant person.
    Posted by: Korean Ginseng | Monday, December 07, 2009 at 07:58 AM
    I wonder if you understand how stupid that comment makes you look? When all the facts say differently you still cling to your skewed view of Palin.

  13. Copper Quark says:

    As it is, she is nothing more than a mean, bigoted and ignorant person.
    Lessee…was it Palin who taunted Romney over his religion? What it Palin who did the adolescent trick with the middle finger? Was it Palin who refused to take on Obama precisely where he was most vulnerable?
    No, it wasn’t. There are mean, bigoted, ignorant people but if I were going to name them I’d say Huckabee, Obama, and McCain rather than Palin.

  14. newscaper says:

    Korean Ginseng,
    I am not a Palin-bot by any stretch, but you are the feeblest kind of ‘maroon’ if you don’t realize that a great part of her appeal is precisely that she *didn’t* spend most of the last 44 years stoking her presidential ambitions, and shows every sign of being a real person rather than a pol with a suit and power tie grafted to their skin since the age of 22 (if not birth).

  15. Joan_of_Sarc says:

    Liberalism is a disease. Sarah is the cure.
    Korean Ginseng: Go into the woods to look for the magic root. Your potion isn’t working here.

  16. HoosierHawk says:

    She could learned to contribute real ideas other than “Drill, baby, drill.”
    As it is, she is nothing more than a mean, bigoted and ignorant person.
    Posted by: Korean Ginseng | Monday, December 07, 2009 at 07:58 AM
    If you don’t know what other ideas Mrs. Palin has contributed, then you don’t even understand the article you are commenting on. This article clearly points out that Mrs. Palin is way ahead of the curve using modern media to get her message across.
    Allow me to quote “Meanwhile, nearly every Palin tweet or Facebook post is targeted to speak to the very people reading there, giving them precisely what they want to read, or hear in promotional, or political terms.”
    If the only Palin position you are aware of is “Drill,Baby,Drill”, then the term “ignorant” would be a better description of you, rather than Palin

  17. Jerry456 says:

    By the simple fact that Palin makes liberals go into convulsions until they are curled up on the floor in the fetal position with drool coming out of their mouths is enough for my vote. Go Sarah! 2012!

  18. Reagan Fan says:

    “Drill, Baby, Drill” would have produced real jobs for Americans, helped the American economy, would effect a downward pressure on the price of oil, and helped the US toward the goal of “energy independence”.
    In fact, it still would. Unlike the trillion dollar fiasco that has caused a nearly 50% increase in unemployment and only seems to produce “jobs” in non-existent Congressional districts.
    But sure, other than that, what a stupid idea.

  19. obladioblada says:

    FaceBook is just a tool. None of this would work if she didn’t have tremendous charisma and a message that people want to hear. FaceBook would be ineffective for Harry Reid.

  20. John Oh says:

    I didn’t bother with Palin’s facebook page until the media publicized the “death panels.” I decided to see she what she actually wrote.
    I was astounded by how clear and direct her comments are. She writes to communicate with her readers, not to prove a point or demonstrate how clever she is. The more I read the more I’m reminded of the speeches Ronald Reagan wrote for himself that were presented in In His Own Hand.
    I’m not sure what I think about Palin, but I know that in a world of preening ego maniacs — Newt, Obama, pick one, it transcends party — she is different.
    People like Korean who don’t get that simply have not read what she’s written.

  21. Rich Vail says:

    I first heard about Mrs. Palin in may of 2007, not long after she had been elected to the Alaskan Gov office. What I heard and saw, convinced me that she would be a “comer” in the GOP…if they didn’t try and throw her to the dogs. She and Michelle Bachman of MN are the future of the GOP…and we as a party would be monumentally stupid to deride or dismiss them…that being said. I suspect that Sara won’t run in 2012, she’ll run in 2016.

  22. jgreene says:

    Sarah has two more years of bypassing the Lame Stream Media with direct messages to the Conservative Base and Regular American Voters and citizens. She always was brighter than the other three lamers in the 2008 Presidential election.
    Sarah Palin is a natural Leader and will be a formidable force in Conservative politics in the future. She not only has a head start on the field, but she’s got guts, charisma, intelligence and people like her straight forward, thoughtful, common-sense, informed approach to big government. Go Sarah!

  23. BD says:

    The Obama Presidency ends with the 2010 election. Palin will then have the chits to collect for 2012 run. The Democratic party is going over a cliff with Obamacare, climate change, congressional corruption, and poor job creation programs. They will not be seen for another 20 years until they fool us again.

  24. Shawn Dudley says:

    It would be the ultimate in poetic justice to have Sarah Palin win the presidency in 2012. Unfortunately should that happen I highly doubt Obama would go quietly and we’d see a political war that would make Bush v. Gore look like a little league game.

  25. otpu says:

    I don’t think that Sarah will run in 2012. She may not run in 2016 but I am less certain of that.
    I think she’s pretty much settled in to a role as kingmaker for the 2010 and 2012 elections.
    The NY-23 election in November proved that the official Republican candidate might as well drop out if Sarah says, “I wouldn’t vote for the person the Republican Party nominated because I think they’re actually a liberal bozo in disguise. I’m supporting this other person because I think they’ll do a better job for America”,

  26. ian says:

    Sullivan is obsessed with her because he knows what she is doing works, and is afraid. It is all rather amusing to watch.

  27. James says:

    Hi Dan,
    It seems to me that Palin is in a sweet spot to use Twitter and Facebook, while Romney and Gingrich are not, even if they tried.
    In rough terms, the Republicans are divided into three cultural groups: The intellectuals, the plutocrats and the populists.
    The Republicans are also divided into three policy groups: Libertarians, Business People, and Conservative Christians.
    You can think of these divisions as a matrix. There is a quite a bit overlap between the two divisions. But there is some portion of the party in all 9 combinations.
    Cultural Groups:
    The intellectuals talk about big ideas, but hardly ever get elected to anything. They are also the smallest group. Gingrich is largely an intellectual, but some-how had a big enough mouth to get elected.
    Romney is a plutocrat. Plutocrats are distant and very sophisticated. They admire their own management capabilities. Another prominent plutocrat trying to break through is Meg Whitman. Facebook and Twitter are not their style. They don’t talk directly to the people and don’t know how. They talk through managers, handlers and indirectly through decisions.
    Palin is a populist. Populists identify strongly with their group, and are the largest portion of the Republican party. But it takes a populist with an enormous amount of talent to break to the top of the party. They don’t have the sophisticated education or the managerial experience to rise to the top through the system. They have to break through by building excitement from the common people.
    So Facebook and Twitter are perfect for Palin.
    Though Plutocrats are a smaller group, they form the majority of the politicians within the party, especially at the highest levels. Democrats love to run against plutocrats. The ads write themselves. “They got rich by laying you off”. “They are at the top, while you toil below”. Democrats have plutocrats too (maybe even more), but the media give them a pass.
    Talented populists are scary to Democrats because they can’t use those arguments. So they are left with tearing them down from an intellectual perspective. “She’s brain dead.” “She thinks you can see Russia from her house.” “She couldn’t manage her own family, let alone the country.” The arguments work a little, but if they aren’t true they just make the supporters mad.
    The last populist who ran anything big in the Republican party was Ronald Reagan. He was a dunce according to the democrats, what else could they say? He had very little education. Came from the wrong family, or no family. Had a career (in acting) which was second tier at best. Palin fits the Reagan mold perfectly.
    So from a cultural group perspective, Sarah Palin has a great deal of potential. Its not a sure thing that she will succeed. But I think the Democrats are a little more scared of her than they want to admit.
    Palin also has an interesting perspective on the policy divisions within the party. She is personally very culturally conservative. But in office, she legislates from a much more libertarian perspective. In many ways, this is the opposite of Huckabee, who appears to bring his Christianity to the laws he wants to pass. In Alaska, there is very little time to worry about legislating morality. Everyone is trying to live free and survive in the last frontier. So the culture is libertarian, while some choose to go to conservative churches.
    So Palin has the ability to get libertarians and conservative christians to vote for her at the same time. The libertarians because she has a libertarian policy perspective, the conservative christians because she goes to their church and “is one of them”. Balancing that while in office will be tricky, but during the election the effect could be strong.
    Lastly, we all should remember that all of these groups are vital to the Republican party. They do fight and compete with each other, but the party can’t live if it loses any one group. I’m from the intellectual/libertarian part of the party, so I have no expectation that someone from my camp will win any big elections. I have no personal attachment to Sarah Palin, but I think it would be a powerful thing for the party if she made it to the top.

  28. John Skookum says:

    Nobody else in either party goes to the lengths Gov. Palin does to footnote and document her communications. Haters like Korean Ginseng have three years to correct their mistaken first impressions.

  29. John Skookum says:

    “It would be the ultimate in poetic justice to have Sarah Palin win the presidency in 2012. Unfortunately should that happen I highly doubt Obama would go quietly and we’d see a political war that would make Bush v. Gore look like a little league game.”
    Eh, Obama would go quietly. There’s not the slightest possibility the military would stand by if Sarah won an election fair and square, and he refused to skedaddle.
    His urban base would probably foul their own nest a la the Rodney King riots, but that’s their problem and not mine.

  30. nohype says:

    Sarah Palin is the shadow president. Just as President Obama uses the “bully pulpit” of the presidency to rally people to support or oppose causes, shadow president Palin is able to use the “bully pulpit” of Facebook to rouse people. When you see her as the shadow president, both the enthusiasm she inspires among friends and especially the hatred she incites among foes make a lot more sense.

  31. Bod says:

    Shadow President?
    Sarah for Hegemon!

  32. EM says:

    Sarah Palin is making an impact on America. Her future is unknown to us but right now she is a force to contend with. Everyone talks about her lack of Education…what has any of the Ivy League folks done for us lately? Who are the leaders in the world and where did they go to school? She has common sense (unlike the afore mentioned), a work ethic, faith, standards, and she likes Americans…oh, thats why they don’t like her.

  33. HoosierHawk says:

    Incredibly insightful post. I love the way that you divided up the republican base into a 2 dimensional matrix (let’s face it, the MSM and all politicans want divide the entire electorate into left and right, 1 dimension – 2 parties – what ya gonna do?).
    You didn’t follow up on the pro-business types in your analysis of the policy groups. If they ever find out with how she dealt with “big oil” in Alaska – they will love her. From reading “Going Rogue” she (and her staff) looked at how the oil companies had to pay Alaska for the oil leases and the oil pumped. The historical formula created a system that didn’t motivate the oil companies to operate in the best interest of the state – they wanted to lock up leases but then not put up the captital to bring wells into production, they were stuck in a no-mans land between assets on their books, tax considerations and fee payments. They (Palin’s working group) created a new tax/fee system that not only got the oil companies priorities squared away, it motivated them to make infrastructure investments. The new system even took into consideration the fact that energy prices go through large swings, the system made sure that when prices dropped the oil companies didn’t suffer because of the investments they had made – but when the prices went up, Alaskans and the oil companies benefited (greatly).
    It was good for Alaska and the oil companies – even though Big Oil ended up paying the state quite a bit more money, they had been insulated from a great deal of risk, which is important for a high investment, low margin type of business. Of course she had to go through 3 layers of law suits to prove that she could yank leases that did not show active development within a reasonable timeframe, and she came down like a ton of bricks on Exxon in the oil spill settlement. At the end of the day she just made wise decisions on behave of Alaskans.
    An actual real world win-win, can you imagine that in Washington?

  34. Jim C. says:

    As it is, she is nothing more than a mean, bigoted and ignorant person.
    Posted by: Korean Ginseng
    Yet another liberal presents with a textbook case of projection. Sad.

  35. WestWright says:

    Great piece on SP’s tactics, she is a force for good and that is the root of hatred by the real haters, the communistic Left. I believe that by the 2010 midterms Obama’s poll #’s will be at their absolute minimum, 30-35% vs SP’s somewhere north of 55-60%. After 2010 Obama will be ineffective and will probably have a Rat to oppose him in 2012, similar to fat Teddy vs Jimmah.

  36. Tennwriter says:

    A nice analysis.
    I’d disagree somewhat. We can do without the libertarians, and I’m not sure how intellectual libertarians are (its the simplest political philosophy out there.)
    That said.
    I want the libertarians in the coalition. I just don’t want them to overestimate their importance. Its a standard libertarian arguement to compare them to the social conservatives as the two wings of the R party, but this flatters them considerably since socons are about 60X larger than libertarians.

  37. James says:

    Hi Tennwriter,
    Just to be clear, I never used the word libertarian with a capital ‘L’.
    If you ask the general population if they believe in the following:
    “Are you a economic conservative and a social liberal at the same time?”;
    a number somewhere around 40% say yes. That is a very broad definition of a libertarian. A more focused definition would probably give a number around 15% of the population. For instance, Glenn Reynolds considers himself as a libertarian, but supports the military invasions of both Afganastan and Iraq (I think).
    Lastly, by “intellectual” I would give the definition of: “Comes to conclusions based on a assumptions of government power and human nature which are then extrapolated to conclusions about policy – with a nod toward history as a guide. This is a pretty small group.
    It also is a useful group in my opinion, but not generally in an electoral sense. It is also a group which may be (small l) libertarian, may be socially conservative, or may be business oriented.