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Friday, October 15, 2010

Polarizing Endorsements

In our chapters on parties and campaigns, we talk about the role of polarization in American electoral politics. Themes and endorsements that may help a candidate in a primary may be problematic in a general election campaign. The San Francisco Chronicle reports:

While the 2008 GOP vice presidential nominee has flexed her political muscle by endorsing some conservative candidates who have won Republican primaries from Delaware to Alaska this year, the jury is still out on what Palin's blessing can deliver in a general election, when voters are not uniformly conservative. In California, Palin's endorsement of Fiorina in the spring helped reshape the Senate primary, giving the first-time candidate and former Hewlett-Packard CEO credibility with conservative voters who didn't know much about her.

"In a low-turnout election, which it looks like this one will be, that could help," said Richard Fox, a professor of political science at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles and author of "It Still Takes a Candidate: Why Women Don't Run for Office."

"But I think nobody in a close race would want to appear with her," Fox said. "She is still very polarizing."