Sarah Palin vs Bill Clinton: The Fight For Influence in Election 2012


Recently it was announced that former President Bill Clinton will formally nominate President Obama at the Democratic National Convention on September 3, in Charlotte, North Carolina. Most liberals have hailed the choice, arguing that President Clinton’s association with the Obama campaign will have a positive effect as Clinton’s presidency was defined by a booming economy. It’s typical of campaigns to call upon their allies at this stage in the game, and for voters it’s incredibly important to notice who’s representing the nominees. For President Obama, Democrats like Clinton and Julian Castro, the popular mayor from San Antonio, who are both speaking on Obama’s behalf will help sway undecided voters. So, when looking at both parties, which members will have the most sway among voters? 

Certainly, a former president as popular as Clinton will sway many, but a conservative darling like Sarah Palin, who has recently been making headlines by responding to attacks from Dick Cheney and defending Chick-fil-A, will have a hefty impact as well (whether that’s a positive or negative impact is still up in the air). Palin and Clinton are the most able and compelling speakers of their respective parties core messages, and their presence in the electoral arena will motivate each candidates base and turn out the critical marginal voters. With both Palin and Clinton so wildly popular in their respective parties, it will be hard to gauge who is truly more influential.

The truth of the matter is that President Clinton is extraordinarily popular, and though he previously took jabs at Obama during Hillary Clinton’s campaign in 2008, wounds have healed and Clinton is an ideal Democrat to be formally nominating Obama at the DNC. Not only is he the most articulate member of the Democratic Party, as a former president he can convey the difficulties of the job and how well he believes Obama has done, as no other person can – not even the vice president, who usually delivers the nomination. Clinton inspires Democrats, whereas Obama has caused some frustration. The only downside to Clinton as the key-noter is that his star power may outshine Obama's.

Although she may not be as articulate as President Clinton, Governor Palin is also incredibly popular among conservatives and has done a spectacular job at exciting conservative voters. Most notably, her recent involvement in the conservative, come-from-behind, Texas Senate candidate Ted Cruz’s election was instrumental in his success in addition to a variety of other down ticket elections. While it may not shine as bright, Palin does have her own star power that the Republican Party can benefit from. In contrast to Clinton who is focused on both Obama and the task of uniting his party, Palin’s focus is less on Romney as the nominee and more on the down ticket races that are influential in strengthening the party.

If you’re looking for an answer as to who will be more influential, it’s really a multi-layered response that has to take into account the needs of the individual party. Both Palin and Clinton hold significant influence, but each chooses to use their influence in the way they deem most helpful to their party. With so many variables, only when votes start coming in will we be able to gauge their impact.