Does Kelly Ayotte Have A Sarah Palin Problem?

Flickr/<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/newshour/2831440254/">News Hour</a> (<a href="http://www.creativecommons.org">Creative Commons</a>).

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On Monday, Sarah Palin endorsed Kelly Ayotte, the leading candidate for the GOP nomination for Senate in New Hampshire. In many ways, this is good news for Ayotte. Despite her political stature (she was the state’s attorney general), she’s faced an unexpectedly tough primary, with six opponents. (The nominee will be decided on September 14.) Over at Blue Hampshire, Ray Buckley speculates that Ayotte was seeking Palin’s aid as far back as May, when she traveled to Washington to attend a fundraiser for the anti-abortion rights Susan B. Anthony List that featured Palin as the keynote speaker. 

But although there’s some evidence that Palin endorsements help in Republican primaries, Palin’s support could end up being a decidedly mixed blessing for Ayotte. Palin is very popular among GOPers, but her overall favorability numbers are not high. Only 39 percent of voters surveyed in a recent Pew poll viewed the former Alaska governor positively, while 52 percent had negative opinions. It’s not like Palin is particularly familiar with New Hampshire, either—when she was there in 2008, she called it the “great Northwest.” 

Rep. Paul Hodes, the presumptive Dem nominee, is certainly pleased that his rival has Palin’s backing. “We couldn’t be more thrilled that Sarah Palin chose to endorse Kelly Ayotte,” Hodes’ campaign communications director told reporters on Tuesday. The Hodes campaign even sent out an email explaining that they “hope” Palin comes to New Hampshire to campaign for Ayotte. And Palin’s endorsement isn’t popular with New Hampshire’s most important newspaper, either. On Wednesday, Joseph McQuaid, the publisher of the New Hampshire Union-Leader, slammed the endorsement:

The race will be won by the candidate who impresses New Hampshire voters, and New Hampshire voters are rarely impressed by what outsiders have to say….

Palin isn’t making these endorsements because, as she claims, she has spent time in New Hampshire and thus knows that the people here are a lot like Alaskans. She spent a few hours here on one day during the 2008 Presidential election. That’s still more time than she spent getting to know Ayotte, but it takes quite a bit longer to know New Hampshire.

McQuaid says that Palin’s endorsement shouldn’t reflect poorly on Ayotte. But she embraced it, and perhaps even sought it out. She must think that New Hampshire voters are “impressed by what outsiders have to say.” Shouldn’t that reflect on her?

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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