We always write that running mates don’t really move votes, but I’m increasingly convinced that Sarah Palin is the exception. Bill Kristol (who appears to have spent more time with Palin than McCain did before selecting her) sums up the stakes for McCain:
If Palin turns out not be up to the challenge for which McCain has selected her, McCain will pay a heavy price. His judgment about the most important choice he’s had to make this year will have been proved wanting. He won’t be able to plead that being right about the surge in Iraq should be judged as more important than being right about his vice-presidential pick.
McCain has gambled boldly on Palin. If she flops, McCain could lose by a landslide.
On the other hand, if Palin exceeds expectations, and her selection ends up looking both bold and wise, McCain could win.
The Palin pick already, as Noemie Emery wrote, “Wipes out the image of McCain as the crotchety elder and brings back that of the fly-boy and gambler, which is much more appealing, and the genuine person.” But of course McCain needs Palin to do well to prove he’s a shrewd and prescient gambler.