If a liberal were stuck on a life raft with Sarah Palin and Ted Cruz (as a proxy for the Tea Party), who would she try to shove off first?* Trick question: the answer is neither, because conventional wisdom among the media and the Left (but I repeat . . .) is that Palin and the Tea Party are both damaging to the Republican Party.
Well guess what mom? Two new academic studies, using the standard regression modeling techniques that are considered the most “mainstream” methodology of political science today, turn the conventional wisdom on its head.
Writing in Political Research Quarterly, Edward M. Burmilla and Josh M. Ryan of Bradley University conclude that “We find that using marginal effects, as is appropriate for cross-sectional data, shows that Palin had a positive effect on McCain vote choice, and based on our model specification, may have had a positive, conditional relationship for independent voters.” Here’s the complete abstract:
The ‘Palin Effect’ in the U.S. 2008 Presidential Election” analyzes the effect of Sarah Palin on presidential vote choice. Two of the substantive conclusions are (1) Palin cost McCain votes among independents and moderates, and (2) Palin had the largest effect on vote choice of any recent vice-presidential nominee. Our analysis shows that the data do not support these findings. We find that respondent evaluations of Palin have a positive effect on McCain vote choice, even among independents and moderates, and Palin’s effect on the election outcome is comparable with ten of the last fifteen vice-presidential nominees.
Meanwhile, The Economist this week reports on a study that concludes the much-reviled Tea Party had a significant positive impact on behalf of the GOP in the 2010 election (what would we do without social scientists?) As The Economist describes it:
[N]ew research suggests that the people whom left-wing pundits once dismissed as “teabaggers” made a big difference in the mid-term elections of 2010, when Republicans recaptured the House of Representatives.
The abstract makes clear an interesting point; the Tea Party didn’t just reveal opinion, but galvanized and changed opinion:
Our estimates suggest significant multiplier effects: an additional protester increased the number of Republican votes by a factor well above one. Together our results show that protests can build political movements that ultimately affect policymaking, and that they do so by influencing political views rather than solely through the revelation of existing political preferences.
So here’s an idea: Sarah Palin should start selling a line of tea–maybe a “Special 2016 Blend,” and watch liberal/media heads explode. (I’m sure she’s being audited by the IRS already.)
* Yeah, yeah, I know: if the liberal on the life raft was Pajama Boy, no one would get shoved off the life raft. Pajama Boy would be fed to the sharks before he got his first whine out.