The Campaign Spot

Will Another Bristol Palin Reality Series Impact the 2012 Odds for Sarah?


BIO has ordered ten half-hour episodes of an untitled Bristol Palin/Massey brothers docu-series from Associated Television International, it was announced today by David McKillop, Executive Vice President, Programming, A&E Network and BIO Channel. The series follows Bristol Palin’s move from Alaska to Los Angeles with her son, Tripp, to work at a small charity in need while living with her good friends Chris and Kyle Massey. The series is slated to air in late 2011.

She’s the most famous single mother in America. And she became a national media darling during her odds-defying, ratings record-breaking run on “Dancing with the Stars.” Now as Bristol Palin gears up for her work in this charity, she is allowing cameras exclusive access into her personal life for the first time.

While on “Dancing,” Bristol became extremely close with fellow contestant, actor Kyle Massey. Since the show, Bristol, Kyle, and Kyle’s brother, actor Christopher Massey, have become best friends; so much so, that since Bristol and Tripp have to move to Los Angeles for her new job, she decides to move in with the Massey brothers who are also about to realize how much their lives are about to change.

Sarah Palin has political star-power and charisma on a level most politicians only dream of. Millions of Americans look at Palin and see a figure whose life experience and values are closer to their than any other politician.

As governor, she took on her own party when she concluded it wasn’t putting the people’s interests first, and faced down and ousted an incumbent governor. Barely in office for two years, the Republican presidential nominee plucked her from relative obscurity and threw her into the most intense pressure cooker imaginable; she made a stunning debut at the 2008 convention. After her debut, the GOP ticket actually surged ahead of Obama and Biden for about two weeks. She went into the vice-presidential debate as a heavy underdog and did no worse than a draw and was, in many eyes, a big winner over Joe Biden.  In the 2010 cycle, Palin endorsed many Republican candidates in competitive primaries, often favoring GOP challengers who were military veterans, women, and outsiders or those who defined themselves in opposition to local party establishments. Thirty-three of her 64 endorsees won on Election Day, and Palin amassed a record of some big wins (Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, helping vault Nikki Haley to an upset win in South Carolina) and some frustrating defeats (Vaughn Ward, Clint Didier, Angela McGlowan).

But, since her sudden explosion onto the political scene, Sarah Palin has been the subject of a reality television series, her daughter has had a prominent role in a second reality series, and now will star in yet another reality television series, one that will air during the final weeks before the Iowa caucuses. (Separately, the former son-in-law is shopping a reality series, in the hopes that Palin-haters will, once again, help him convert his fifteen minutes of fame into another year at the celebrity currency exchange window.)

We will see whether Palin decides to run and if she does, how well she performs in the GOP primaries. But almost every national poll has Palin slipping in the GOP field; a recent survey from Gallup suggests that only 8 percent of registered voters would definitely vote for her and 65 percent would definitely not vote for her under any circumstances. That total almost certainly includes some voters who cast their ballots for her on the GOP ticket in 2012. So what has driven away those former supporters? Is it that an atmosphere of celebrity tabloid drama now constantly swirls around the Palin family, distracting from the idea of Palin as a potential commander-in-chief? Is it that some Republican voters just can’t accept the idea of a candidate’s family members constantly popping up in entertainment television?

This is not the first time a presidential candidate’s family member has presented a political complication; one only needs to think of Billy Beer or Roger Clinton’s rhythm and blues concert in Pyongyang, North Korea. As far as distractions go, this is pretty small potatoes, and clearly, Bristol Palin is a grown woman who can make her own decisions. (Sarah Palin’s statement when Bristol and Levi Johnston briefly reunited hinted strongly that mother and daughter don’t always see eye to eye on big decisions: “We obviously want what is best for our children, but Bristol is ultimately in charge of determining what is best for her and her beautiful son. Bristol believes in redemption and forgiveness to a degree most of us struggle to put in practice in our daily lives. We pray that, as a couple, Bristol and Levi’s relationship matures into one that will allow Tripp to grow up graced with two loving parents in his life.”)

But whatever ails the chances of Sarah Palin winning the presidency in 2012, another reality television series with her daughter is probably not the cure.

Okay, Palin fans. Have at it.

UPDATE: I see in the comments that pointing to Palin’s poll numbers is ispo facto “push[ing] the ‘Palin is unelectable’ meme.” Mmm. If acknowledging that she’s losing ground constitutes a blanket declaration that she is, now and forever, “unelectable,” sensitive readers are urged to avert their eyes from the results from Gallup, and Quinnipiac, Marist, Rasmussen, CNN, ARG and the Alaska Poll

Most Popular

Politics & Policy

Hillary Ruins the Plan

Editor’s note: Andrew C. McCarthy’s new book is Ball of Collusion: The Plot to Rig an Election and Destroy a Presidency. This is the first in a series of excerpts.  There really was a collusion plot. It really did target our election system. It absolutely sought to usurp our capacity for ... Read More

The End of Hong Kong as We Know It

The protests in Hong Kong have been going on for more than four months now, and no matter how the current crisis concludes in the coming days or weeks, it will mark the end of Hong Kong as we know it. The protests started in response to an extradition bill that was proposed by the city’s Beijing-backed ... Read More

An Insider’s Guide to Italian Insults

The tragicomic irony of Chris Cuomo’s pugilistic outburst earlier this week — cursing and physically threatening a man for taunting him with a reference to the movie The Godfather — is that the CNN anchor reinforced the usual tropes about Italian Americans. We are all wise-guys, goons, and Mafiosi, just ... Read More

Another Pop-Culture Christian Loses His Faith

It’s happened again. For the second time in three weeks, a prominent (at least in Evangelical circles) Christian has renounced his faith. In July, it was Josh Harris, a pastor and author of the mega-best-selling purity-culture book I Kissed Dating Goodbye. This month, it’s Hillsong United songwriter and ... Read More

A Brief History of Election Meddling

Editor’s note: Andrew C. McCarthy’s new book is Ball of Collusion: The Plot to Rig an Election and Destroy a Presidency. This is the second in a series of excerpts. ‘The 1980s are now calling to ask for their foreign policy back.” Thus spoke President Barack Obama just a couple of weeks before ... Read More