Underwhelmed

UNDERWHELMED…. It might a little while until the political world has reliable data on the effectiveness of Sarah Palin’s speech. What’s more, I’d caution against putting too much stake in a couple of focus groups.

But there’s at least some evidence that Palin’s speech, while popular with die-hard Republicans and media personalities, may not have connected with the rest of the country as well as the McCain campaign may have hoped.

The Detroit Free Press conducted a focus group last night, and found that independents weren’t impressed at all. They were looking for reassurances about her ability to hold national office, and Palin didn’t deliver.

“Sarah Palin came across as the small town girl who made good. I knew that I disagreed with her on some issues before this evening. After listening to her speech … it appears that once she makes up her mind, that is the end of it. We live in a gray world, not every answer is black and white.” — Diane Murphy, 42, Sterling Heights independent

“I was completely underwhelmed. She was a Republican novelty act with a sophomoric script. It was not even a speech I would expect for a someone running for the local PTA, much less for vice president.” — George Lentz, 66, Southfield independent

“Who is Sarah Palin? I’m sorry but I still don’t know anymore about this young lady tonight than I did last night … The way it looks to me, she’s the Republican vice presidential nominee for one reason: because Hillary wasn’t selected.” — Mike Kosh, 38, West Bloomfield independent

“Sarah Palin is a self-described ‘pitbull with lipstick.’ She spent little time helping Americans learn who she is. She is a cool, poised speaker, but her speech contained few statements about policy or the party platform…. I am not convinced that Palin’s experience as a mayor or governor in Alaska meet the qualifications to be vice president much less one stroke or heart attack away from being commander in chief.” — Ilene Beninson, 52, Berkley independent

“Nothing worked for me. I found her barrage of snide remarksand distortions to be a major turn off. She is not a class act. The most important point she made is that she will be an effective attack dog.” — Jan Wheelock, 58, Royal Oak independent

“Sarah got as much applause as Hillary did, and had a friendly, appealing appearance. Her delivery style reminded me of a high school valedictorian who also might have been a cheerleader. I thought she would appear more professional, more stateswomanly. She’s no match for Joe Biden.” — Joellen Gilchrist, 64, Beverly Hills independent

The Women’s Voices/Women Vote Action Fund sponsored a similar focus group in Nevada, and found relatively similar responses.

I argued earlier that Palin effectively ignored everyone who didn’t already agree with her, which was, at a minimum, a missed opportunity for a candidate in her position (an unknown seeking national office). If these two focus groups are indicative of a larger trend, she overreached last night.