Love her or hate her, there is no question that Sarah Palin, the former governor of Alaska, is an attractive candidate for many voters. Without passing judgment on her policies, character, or potential for higher office, I would like to consider why this is the case and hopefully enlighten both fans and foes of Sarah Palin as to why she is embraced by so many voters.
First, Sarah Palin is a living example of a powerful American mythos, the idea that anyone can be elected to the office of president no matter their income or upbringing. While Sarah is certainly not president as of 2010, the number of votes she earned as the running mate of Senator John McCain in the 2008 U.S. presidential election certainly indicates that the highest office in the land may not be outside of her reach. Growing up as a rather ordinary person and yet getting close to the Oval Office shows people all across the land that they too can possibly rise in the ranks even if they are presently unknown.
Second, Sarah Palin professes to be a conservative evangelical. Whether you agree with the general political positions of evangelical Christians or not, there are a sizeable number of voters who take their faith with them into the voting booth. Connecting with this group at the level of religion is one way to guarantee that you will earn many of their votes. Of course, this is not just limited to evangelicals in politics. Right or wrong, many people will vote for a candidate based mainly on the candidate's race, gender, age, or religion.
Third, Sarah Palin has shown a certain willingness to do hard things. She took on the powers that be in Alaska and won the governor's seat. She carried a Down's Syndrome baby to full term when many others would not. Americans love to see a heroic figure who is willing to make hard choices, and Sarah Palin represents just such a hero for many people.
Finally, and perhaps most powerfully, Sarah Palin appeals to many voters because she reminds them of good ole mom. A large majority of Americans live in a household where their tough but feminine mother keeps things running smoothly. Sarah Palin exudes this kind of femininity. Well-dressed, pretty but not impossibly beautiful, tough enough to play with the big dogs in politics - Sarah Palin is in many ways the example par excellence of the working mothers that we have all known and loved. Voting for her, for some voters, is like voting for one's mother, and who else is more capable of running the country than dear old mom?