Paul Goldman: Has Sarah Palin Saved the GOP?





[The writer is a political strategist and a former chairman of Virginia's Democratic Party.]

...There has been a lot of carping about Republicans' prospects for November since Palin-backed candidate Christine O'Donnell defeated longtime Delaware officeholder Mike Castle for the Republican Senate nomination Tuesday. But contrary to conventional wisdom, the 2008 vice presidential nominee has kept the party strong. How? She has kept the Tea Party faithful inside the GOP tent. Had she instead encouraged these disillusioned voters to mount third-party challenges across the 2010 general-election ballot, dozens of Democratic incumbents, not to mention challengers, would be smiling like Woodrow Wilson in 1912.

That year, a simmering feud between two wings of the Republican Party resulted in the "Bull Moose" independent presidential candidacy of former president Teddy Roosevelt. The Rough Rider's support four years earlier landed William Howard Taft the GOP nomination, but the two had a falling-out. Their disunity allowed Wilson, the governor of New Jersey, to claim the White House with the lowest winning percentage of the popular vote since the two-party era began in 1864. Wilson was only the second Democrat elected president since the Civil War; a GOP united by a temporary, even testy, marriage of convenience would have triumphed easily. But egos proved too large. It did not matter that Wilson was, in TR's term, the "coiner of weasel words."...



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