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Democrats' Last Hope: Sarah Palin Democrats' Last Hope: Sarah Palin

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Democrats' Last Hope: Sarah Palin

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Former Alaska governor Sarah Palin(John Moore/Getty Images)

Rep. Dan Maffei (D-NY) has put money behind his effort to tie Palin to attorney Ann Marie Buerkle (R). "Beurkle's extreme views may have gotten Sarah Palin's support," says an ad Maffei's campaign began running in September, "but she's wrong for Central New York."

"Sarah Palin helps to rally Democratic voters. The fact that show comes in for some of these Republican candidates on the far right does two things: It rallies Democratic voters and alienates independent voters," Van Hollen said. "That's obviously the exact combination Democrats need to win these races."

Democrats in Pennsylvania have started running their own ad tying former Rep. Pat Toomey (R) to Palin, and the party believes it's been an effective message. Rep. Joe Sestak's (D) campaign is running ads associating Toomey and Palin in the Philadelphia media market. Independent voters in the four counties that surround Philadelphia, the so-called Collar Counties, are home to hundreds of thousands of independent swing voters who will decide the race; Democrats say Sestak's ad has helped him in private polls.

Republicans, on the other hand, deny tying Palin to their contenders will make a difference. "I think it's ridiculous," said Nachama Soloveichik, Toomey's communications director. "I think it's Sestak trying to run away from his own record of voting with [House Speaker} Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) nearly 100 percent of the time."

"Hail Marys rarely work. That's why they're called Hail Marys. And it's not going to work this time," Soloveichik said. "Sarah Palin's not on the ballot. People aren't thinking about her. They're thinking about what's been going on in Washington and everything that Sestak has voted for."

But actions speak louder than words, and just as for any surrogate, Palin helps more in some places than others. On Saturday, Palin held a last-minute rally in Charleston, W.Va.-- a state Palin's ticket won with 56 percent of the vote in 2008 -- for Senate candidate John Raese (R).

On the other hand, when Palin traveled to Orlando, Florida for a fundraiser benefiting the Republican National Committee, Senate candidate Marco Rubio (R) conspicuously avoided taking a photograph with her.

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