Wednesday, October 22, 2008

No Picnic for Palin in the Garden State

Tom Kean, the former governor of my home state of New Jersey, thinks Palin is hurting McCain there.

I'd be inclined to agree with that. The thing with Miss Wasilla is that she appeals to one type of person: ruby red, Jesus-loving, not-serious-about-foreign-policy-or-national-security conservatives. Here's part of what Kean had to say:
"I don't know whether it's cultural, political or issue-oriented. She seems to not do well in places like New Jersey, New England and California, and very, very well when it comes to the Midwest in the south," he said. "She probably hurts in New Jersey and helps in other states."
I think it's cultural, political and issue-oriented. Palin is extremely socially conservative (almost ridiculously so), was a pure political stunt and doesn't know much about anything outside of how to run Alaska (and even that is stretching it). This is a toxic combination for New Jerseyans, who can be relative moderates fiscally and on foreign policy but are absolutely socially liberal. Remember: New Jersey is one of only five states where gay people can enter into either a civil union or marriage.

Republicans can win in New Jersey. Tom Kean is a great example. Christie Whitman's another one. And McCain in 2000 would have had a great shot, and could have been competitive this year if he had picked a running mate like Joe Lieberman or Tom Ridge, both of whom are well-known to New Jerseyans as their states are close by and share media markets with the Garden State. If you're moderate on the economy and relatively socially liberal, you can win as a Republican. But it's the cultural issues - that die-hard, no-holds-barred, fanatical obsession with the Bible over all other things - that prevent modern Republicans from winning statewide office in New Jersey (and other places in the Northeast).

For years, the Republicans have been great at exploiting the culture wars. Terrific. That gave us two terms of George W. Bush and, now, Sarah Palin. But the GOP has ceded the Northeast for a generation, and it's because of these social issues. People just aren't motivated by the psychotically conservative religious shit as much up here.

Such elitists, right?

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