Sarah Palin has been an avid campaigner this election season, in some cases plucking insurgent candidates from near obscurity to successfully take on more established opponents.
Not all of her candidates have won, but in the world of Republican primaries often decided by a relatively small group of conservative voters, Palin’s blessing – which she’s given to 43 candidates – can be a major factor.
It’s still unknown whether Palin’s influence will be enough to catapult outsider Christine O’Donnell to victory over Rep. Mike Castle in today’s Delaware’s Senate primary. But just the fact that the race is so close is due in part to her endorsement.
O’Donnell is a hard-line conservative with the backing of the Tea Party Express – the group that spent heavily in Alaska and helped fuel Joe Miller’s unlikely primary there. Her opponent is Delaware’s lone House member, who has twice been elected governor and is a political icon. No one expected it to be a real race, and Palin’s endorsement last week is one factor making it so tight. Her backing carries the most weight in states with relatively small numbers of voters (about 30,000 Republicans are expected to vote in Tuesday’s primary), where those who come out are most likely to be swayed by her opinion.
“It’s her special relationship with the most motivated primary members this year,” says Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics. “They follow her tweets like they’re an addendum to the Bible."
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