23 August 2006

Money talks?

If you ask a political analyst to size up a race, one of the first things he or she will look at is the relative spending by the two candidates. Money buys ads, pays for campaign trips, spreads literature around, and generally greases the wheels of a candidate's shot at office.

Therefore, one of the most surprising things about Alaska's election results, is that money manifestly did not talk. Binkley outspent Palin three-to-one (as of the latest - but not final - figures) and still lost by 20 points. The cruise ship industry spent millions of dollars trying to shoot down measure 2, an attempt that appears to have failed. And Alaskans confirmed their views on money in politics by overwhelmingly supporting measure 1, which puts a variety of campaign finance restrictions in place.

Clearly, in the Republican governor's race, there was another strong motivating factor that really swept people into the Palin column. What was it? I'd say it was the combination of three things.

First, it's a strong anti-incumbent year combined with an unpopular incumbent. People were looking for the anti-Frank Murkowski and perhaps found Binkley not sufficiently different. For sure, he was different but Palin was the diametric opposite in a lot of ways.

Second, I think there's a strong anti-establishment sense this year. Binkley was pretty closely associated with the Republican establishment. Sarah, for obvious reasons, was not. Looks like she had the better strategy.

Third, I guess Palin just had the more appealing policies and positions. (But even after nearly a year-long candidacy, I can't figure out what she thinks of the gas pipeline, education, health care, public safety in rural Alaska, and so on and so forth. Who is Sarah Palin?)

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