Convention 2008: Palin Speech Leaves Democrats Scrambling, Nielsen Viewership Through Roof

by Benjamin Domenech on 1:16 pm September 4, 2008

So the best attacks the Democrats can muster against Sarah Palin’s epic speech is a twin version of the same spiel:

1) Sarah Palin did not write her speech. 2) Sarah Palin did not talk about education or health care in her speech.

Ha-ha. /Nelson

The first attack is just silly on its face. Every politician with national stature has speechwriters – every single one. They have a press secretary or a communications director or even someone whose sole task it is to craft words that will achieve the right message in a powerful way. Not all politicians are great writers – some are – but all of them need help in framing their message correctly.

Even Barack Obama. His muse is a 26 year old white kid nicknamed “Favs.” The NYTimes profiled him here.

You mean…even The One DOESN’T WRITE HIS OWN SPEECHES! gasp Yes, sadly, it’s true.

The second attack is a creature of the Sixties-21st Century divide that I noted yesterday, in this post about post-feminism politics, in which apparently Republican women should behave the way that the leftist media believes they should – sticking to soft and homey issues. Instead, Palin spoke forcefully about the kitchen table issues that matter just as much, if not more, to most blue collar and middle class Americans: energy, taxes, and the war. She’s a mother, yes, and has a PTA background – but that doesn’t mean she only has thoughts about the issues the post-sexual revolution media still views as “girl stuff.”

Speechwriting is an odd task, and extremely challenging. But it can also be very rewarding – last night, as Sarah Palin gave her speech, I saw Matt Scully looking up toward the press section on cue after every punchline, making sure it registered with the hacks at their laptops. He’s got to learn this woman’s voice quick, and last night was a fantastic start.

It’s always good to see what works when you’re trying to figure out a new voice, one you haven’t studied before – and Palin is very new, and very unique, which makes her input on these speeches all the more significant. Anyone could write a Joe Biden speech at this point – just take a few slugs of whiskey, and stream of consciousness for about 4 hours. Don’t edit anything. Palin’s probably tougher to write for in this moment, but it’s clear she’s a natural – and if you give her something above average, her own ability will make it shine.

Let’s give Dean Barnett the last word – he hits directly on why this attack on Scully’s existence is so ludicrous. Read it here:

2) Interesting that the Obama campaign has decided that it has a winner in pointing out that Palin “cheated” by having a speechwriter. Of course, a pliant media did its job last night in spreading this supremely lame talking point. The funhouse at MSNBC was all over it, and even half the panel at Fox saw it as a nugget of information requiring dissemination. One can only wonder why media analysts didn’t feel it necessary to point out that Joe Biden’s oratory also received the ministrations of speechwriting pros (all appearances to the contrary). Could it be that Biden’s speech was so dreadful, no one felt the provenance of the speech required clarification?

Of course, this weak return of serve is unlikely to have its desired effect of dismissing Palin’s performance. Once again, Palin spoke directly to the American people last night – they’ll make up their own minds about her. It must really concern the Democrats that Palin will have many similar opportunities in the future.

A couple of final points on this matter – if giving a great speech is so darn easy, how come Joe Biden, John Kerry and Chris Dodd with a combined 340 years in politics have never been able to pull it off? And if it’s such an irrelevant skill, why again exactly is Barack Obama the Democrats’ nominee?

The Nielsen numbers are out, and wow, they are good. Sarah Palin’s speech, despite being carried on only six channels compared to Obama’s ten, despite the lack of a huge venue or months of hype, was viewed by only a million fewer people than Barack Obama’s Speech o’ the Century.

Via Clayton, a few notable facts: Palin beat Obama in Persons 55+ (reliable voters!) and multi person white households; in the 18-34 demo (Obamas home base) Palin drew 81% of his audience; In the 18-49 demo she drew 88% of his audience; Palin trounced Biden in all categories except multi-person black households. And here’s more from Nielsen itself:

  • The Sara Palin speech generated 37.2 million viewers, just a 1.1 million viewers short of Barack Obama’s record-breaking speech on Day 4 of the Democratic Convention. The Palin speech was carried on only six networks while the Obama speech was carried on ten (including BET, TV One, Univision and Telemundo).
  • Palin attracted a large female audience (19.5 million women, or 4.9 million more than Day 3 of the Democratic Convention).
  • Ratings for viewers 55+ (25.2) continue to be about ten times higher than for teens (2.2)
  • Day 3 for the GOP attracted more Hispanic viewers (1.4 million) than Day 3 of the Democratic Convention (1.2 million), even though Univision and Telemundo did not carry the speech.

That last point is astounding. Even though it’s not a huge number, the fact is that Barack Obama had a ton of built in advantages for his speech – whereas the only one for Sarah Palin is that the media had placed expectations in such a negative way that everyone wanted to tune in (perhaps in hopes of a trainwreck?). And an excellent sign for the level of interest in Palin, and the number of people outside of the Twin Cities who viewed the speech as a defining event for this election.

originally posted at redstate, second part here

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