Palin Primes Pump

Democrats See Funding Surge

Posted September 19, 2008 at 6:32pm

The selection of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as the Republican candidate for vice president galvanized conservatives and helped fill the coffers of various GOP political groups, but there is growing evidence she is doing the same for Democratic organizations and their allies.

Democratic officials say they’ve seen increasing enthusiasm since Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) tapped Palin on Aug. 29. While some of the excitement is attributable to the approaching election and the ongoing appeal to Democrats of their presidential nominee, Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.), at least part of it is a result of Palin, they say.

With her strong opposition to abortion in most cases, her fervent support of drilling for oil and natural gas in currently protected areas, and a pro-gun stance accented by an Internet filled with pictures of her holding a rifle, Democratic operatives believe Palin is pushing all the right buttons with their base, too.

The Obama campaign says that on Sept. 4, the day after Palin spoke at the Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minn., the campaign broke all records with a $10 million haul. “Our supporters are galvanized” by her, one Obama campaign official said. “People see her as someone who would do just more of the same [as Bush], and it’s just energizing our base more.”

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee also had good results the very same day, according to a DSCC official. An e-mail sent by Democratic vice presidential candidate Sen. Joseph Biden (Del.) on Sept. 4 seeking donations was one of the most successful solicitations the DSCC has made this cycle, the official said.

The Democratic advocacy group MoveOn.org recorded perhaps its best-ever 24 hours of fundraising after sending out an e-mail pitch on Sept. 10 that mentioned the GOP vice presidential nominee. Group officials attribute the unprecedented $1.2 million one-day take directly to Palin.

“We call it ‘the reverse Palin effect,’” said a MoveOn.org official. “Members are reacting to McCain being totally cynical and choosing Palin,” he said, asserting that the choice was based on political considerations.

“Here’s the situation: John McCain and Sarah Palin are repeatedly deceiving, manipulating, and flat-out lying,” the ad charges. “Palin says she opposed the ‘Bridge to Nowhere’ — when in fact she fully supported it.”

McCain supporters note that though she initially backed funding for the bridge, she decided to oppose it after becoming governor.

MoveOn.org has increased its membership by 1 million since June, standing today at 4.2 million members. Officials say Palin is abetting the increase, helping drive younger voters opposed to her views into the group.

Ellen Moran, executive director of EMILY’s List — which seeks to elect pro-abortion-rights female candidates — said Palin is helping the organization gin up excitement and expand its reach.

“Our membership response since McCain added her to the ticket has been significant,” Moran said.

An e-mail sent out late last week that referenced Palin generated a huge response, resulting in the largest increase to the EMILY’s List e-mail database this year, according to Moran.

The e-mail includes an offer for a bumper sticker that states: “Read My Lipstick: I’m voting Democratic.”

The bumper sticker — a bumper crop of which is being printed — subsequently went viral, Moran said, appearing on social networking sites such as Facebook.

Moran said EMILY’s List members were shocked when McCain veered from consideration of a moderate like Sen. Joe Lieberman (ID-Conn.) to someone as conservative as Palin.

National Organization for Women President Kim Gandy said members are energized and urging NOW leaders to emphasize what the group believes are Palin’s anti-women’s rights positions.

Gandy emphasized NOW’s stance against Palin’s position on abortion.

Gandy said that after she announced recently that NOW is backing Obama and Biden, the group received as many new members in two hours as it normally would in a week.

An official with the League of Conservation Voters suggested it would be easier for environmentalists to make the case that McCain is not one of them, despite positions such as his opposition to drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

“What she really did was put the final nail in the coffin that McCain is in any way different than George Bush on the environment,” the official said. Palin has questioned whether global warming is man-made and strongly backs drilling in ANWR, he noted.