The public discussion of the Palin nomination has settled into two contending storylines — Palin as trainwreck of a poorly vetted nomination and Palin sending base conservatives and right-wing evangelicals into ascending heights of reactionary delirium.
But this is not as big a contradiction as it may appear.
The race to date has been characterized by two key facts.
First, the Democratic base is bigger than the Republican base. The number of self-identifying Democrats is substantially larger that the number of Republican-identifiers.
Second, contrary to what we might have imagined earlier in the year, Republicans have already been substantially more united behind McCain than Democrats have been behind Obama. I would not have predicted that. But the polls have been extremely consistent on this point.
In other words, the GOP ‘base’ was already substantially united behind McCain, subjective measures of intensity notwithstanding. The people who will win the election for McCain are disaffected Democrats and independents. In the context of 2008, a juicing-the-base strategy is a recipe for a respectable defeat, not victory.
Late Update: Here’s David Kurtz’s video update just filed from St. Paul on how GOP convention-goers are warming to Sarah Palin …