So while the Republicans prepare to convince people that they care about storm victims by attacking Barack Obma for four days, let's get to know VP candidate Sarah Palin some more.
First some polls. You may remember that when we talked about Obama's pick of Joe Biden, that some disagreement among our little group about the quality of the pick. Pollingreport.com is now reporting polls that show that if the race were between Biden and Palin, Biden would win 54% to 41%. Now, Obama has been consistently ahead of McCain in the polls (albeit narrowly) so McCain can only be thinking that the benefit to picking Palin is not Palin herself but what his picking her says about him. The only way this works for McCain is if people change their minds about HIM based on this pick. So what are those polls saying? Pollingreport.com has these polls that say that picking Palin makes 22% of respondents more likely to vote for McCain. But it makes 20% of respondents less likely to vote for McCain. That's pretty close for the kind of surveys we're talking about here. It could very easily be that McCain is realizing net loss in support over this. In contrast, similar polls about Biden showed that picking Biden made 15% of respondents more likely to vote for Obama and 11% of them to be less likely to vote for Obama. First, it looks more likely that Biden helped Obama than Palin helps McCain. Second, Obama's support is a lot more stable than McCain's. Realistically, this pick is looking like a wash for McCain. In a week or so we may see some new numbers about enthusiasm and I would guess that McCain will see some improvement there. And that could be the big pay off to McCain.
Second, Sarah Palin and "executive experience." Being governor of Alaska isn't like being governor of most states. It's A LOT easier. The state has no income tax because it gets 87% of its unrestricted revenue from oil revenues. In terms of the total revenue, Alaska takes in $12.3 billion. Of that, $5.2 billion comes from the taxes on oil revenues. They get another $2 billion from the Federal government. The rest of the revenue comes from investments from the oil revenues and other endowments. Alaska does not collect either a state sales tax or a state income tax. That makes it pretty easy politically. The only distributive issues are how high to set the tax on the oil companies. Furthermore, you'll notice from the document linked above that Alaska's revenue office is very concerned about the declining oil output from the north slope. The problem is that as reserves up there dry up, revenue to the state dries up too. So when Alaska politicians say they support drilling in ANWR, they're motivated by a desire to keep a revenue stream with zero political costs flowing. It has nothing to do with the long term well being of the country as a whole or with anything resembling a long term energy policy.
Finally, on Sarah Palin and good governance. The only time Palin was actually in charge of a budget that took some serious effort and hard choices to balance, she blew it. When she was mayor of the village of Wasilla (population 5,469), she cut property taxes by 60% then botched a development deal for a new town rec center. By the way, her botched scheme also include some pretty agressive uses of eminent domain that resulted in a law suit. The whole mess ended up costing the tiny town about $1.7 million. The town is now wallowing in debt.
Oh yeah, and Sarah Palin's 17 year old daughter, Bristol, is pregnant and is planning to keep the baby (of course) and marry the father. The news did not specify if the wedding will take place before or after the birth or before or after Bristol graduates from high school. That's Republican family values for you. IF your teenage daughter gets knocked up you make sure she keeps the baby. This is opposed to Democratic family values. WHEN your teenage daughter starts going out with boys you make sure she knows about BIRTH CONTROL!