SPOTLIGHT

The GOP Establishment’s Unlikely Woman Candidate Backer

WOODBURY, NY - FEBRUARY 17:  Former Alaska governor and Republican vice president candidate Sarah Palin speaks at the Long Island Association's annual meeting February 17, 2011 in Woodbury, New York.  Palin discussed issues including the economy, health care, oil drilling and her possible presidential aspirations.  (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
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April 2, 2014, 7:40 a.m.

The Re­pub­lic­an Party needs more wo­men in elec­ted of­fice, and it knows it. Ele­ments of the GOP are work­ing the is­sue from dif­fer­ent angles, from can­did­ate re­cruit­ment to mes­saging. When think­ing about this, don’t for­get about one seem­ingly un­likely Re­pub­lic­an giv­ing es­tab­lish­ment wo­men a boost: Sarah Pal­in.

— Yes, Pal­in is as­so­ci­ated with a lot more than just bring­ing more Re­pub­lic­an wo­men in­to the elect­or­al fold. And the quick-glance ver­sion of Pal­in’s polit­ic­al activ­ity is that she sup­ports tea party-aligned “mama grizzly” can­did­ates across the map.

— But Pal­in en­dorses plenty of men, too, and some es­tab­lish­ment can­did­ates as well. And in­ter­est­ingly, she lends a fair bit of sup­port to wo­men can­did­ates with es­tab­lish­ment con­nec­tions. These la­bels aren’t one-size-fits-all, of course, but think about Iowa Sen­ate can­did­ate Joni Ernst (a fa­vor­ite of Gov. Terry Bran­stad (R), sup­posedly, and Mitt Rom­ney) or FL-19 can­did­ate (and Flor­ida state Sen­ate ma­jor­ity lead­er) Lizbeth Ben­ac­quisto (R), who’s host­ing Pal­in for a fun­draiser this week and faces oth­er can­did­ates with tea party cre­den­tials.

— The Wash­ing­ton Post kept a handy track­er of Pal­in’s 64 en­dorse­ments in 2010, di­vided by win/loss, gender, and wheth­er the can­did­ates were more closely af­fil­i­ated with the tea party or the GOP es­tab­lish­ment. She en­dorsed more men than wo­men, and she en­dorsed more tea party than es­tab­lish­ment can­did­ates, ac­cord­ing to the Post‘s des­ig­na­tion. But Pal­in was more likely to en­dorse an es­tab­lish­ment wo­man than an es­tab­lish­ment man in 2010. (10 of 27 wo­men en­dorsees were “es­tab­lish­ment,” com­pared to 11 of 37 men.) The es­tab­lish­ment can­did­ates were also more likely to win, and the pat­tern con­tin­ues to make sense an­ec­dot­ally.

Pal­in is a po­lar­iz­ing polit­ic­al force. But she seems to dial it down when aim­ing to boost oth­er Re­pub­lic­an wo­men in­to elec­ted of­fice.
— Scott Bland

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