NH-SEN: Palin’s endorsement of Ayotte bad news for both of them

Governor Pundit Sarah Palin endorsed Kelly Ayotte in the New Hampshire Repub primary for U.S. Senate yesterday. Palin is not well-loved in New Hampshire, and this endorsement is just one more that undermines her credibility as a Tea Party leader and enhances her status as a national hypocrite. (Ayotte’s Democratic opponent, sophomore Rep. Paul Hodes, is featured on MyDD’s Going on Offense page at ActBlue.)

Palin’s support might not be good news for Ayotte, for at least three reasons. One, a December poll found less than half of Republican voters in NH-01 think Palin is qualified to be President. Two, the Palin-McCain McCain-Palin ticket lost by 9% in New Hampshire in 2008 despite McCain’s previous popularity in the state. And three, she was booed during a high-profile ’08 rally in Laconia for referring to NH as part of “the great northwest.” In fact, as far back as last July the DSCC thought it would be a good idea to link Ayotte to Palin. Remember also that a national NBC/WSJ poll found that general election voters are overwhelmingly leery of Palin-backed candidates, at a margin of 52-25. Is this a case of Palin doing the DSCC’s work for them?

But then again, that’s probably exactly why Palin is wading into the race. This endorsement isn’t about Ayotte and it’s not about Hodes – it’s about Palin. Ayotte is closer to the Repub establishment than she is the Tea Party, and she’s currently the front-runner for the party’s nomination. Or in other words, she’s currently the front-runner to play queen-maker during the 2012 primaries. An endorsement of, say, Ovide Lamontagne might have made more Tea Party sense, but Palin cares more about 2012 than she does 2010. She pulled this same kind of stunt with establishment figures Terry Branstad in IA-Gov, Carly Fiorina in CA-Sen, and John McCain in AZ-Sen. Indeed, this pro-establishment behavior is starting to cost her with the Tea Party.

The endorsement comes at the same time that Hodes is going on the air with a second ad focused on Ayotte’s shoddy record as state Attorney General:

Kill three birds with one stone by donating to Hodes: capture an important Senate seat, embarrass Palin, and help boost a progressive stalwart.

Tags: New Hampshire, NH-Sen, Sarah Palin, Paul Hodes, Kelly Ayotte, 2010 midterms (all tags)

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