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All Your Base Are Belong to Her

As Nate and I wrote late last night, Sarah Palin’s speech released a tremendous burst of energy on each side. Democrats were angry. How angry? $10 million for Barack Obama from Palin’s speech until the time McCain takes the stage tonight. Undoubtedly, we will soon see numbers from the McCain camp announcing high fundraising figures. She energized both bases.

As much as Palin fired up and got everyone on both sides ready to go, there is a heart-mind conflict we mentioned yesterday. Emotionally, the Republican base says: Yes! Give us more of this so we can work our guts out for you. Analytically, the Republican insiders know: In 2008, swing voters are the key to winning. While last night must have felt wonderful, I’d be soberly waking up worried about some of these independent focus groups like this one in Michigan and this one of former Clinton supporters in Nevada are saying about Palin’s speech.

Therefore, what we should carefully watch for tonight is the tenor of McCain’s speech. He’s got to reach for independents, and to do that he’s got to sound like he’s full of practical solutions. Hitting Obama a few times will be expected, but if it’s not a broadly-articulated vision of where the country needs to go, the race will continue to be “Obama” vs. “Nobama.” (The latter being a big bumper sticker hit here in St. Paul). Obama vs. Nobama is a race McCain will lose, much the way Bush vs. Not Bush turned out in 2004.

24 hours is a lifetime in politics (during a convention especially), and as much as the Palin speech story dominated the mood last night and today, this time tomorrow it will seem like a fast-fading memory. Consider: the Reverend Wright controversy that felt huge as it unfolded now feels as if it occurred eight lifetimes ago. By the time we reach the debates in a few weeks these conventions will be historical footnotes. That’s the way it works, and it’s one reason Obama’s approach has been to let these temporary buzzes slide off – Jay-Z style – while staying focused on the larger strategy.

EDIT: More Palin links for your browsing pleasure [–Nate]

Nearly as many people watched Palin last night as watched Obama last Thursday.

But some of those people were Obama supporters — and they’re donating to their candidate in large amounts.

A Media Curves analysis found voters’ perceptions of the McCain-Palin ticket improving significantly after watching her speech.

But focus groups in Nevada and Michigan were less impressed.

Rasmussen‘s voters think Obama is more qualified than Palin — but not by an especially wide margin.

And SurveyUSA‘s voters like Palin — but aren’t as sure she reflects well on McCain’s judgment.