Three out of four Palin-backed candidates won their elections tonight, two decidedly crushing their opponents.
Carly Fiorina won it going away 55% to Campbell's 22%. So there.
Nikki Haley crushed her opponents and came within a hair's width of avoiding a run-off. 1.1%. So close! Rumors are flying about whether or not Number 2 guy will drop out. I guess we'll see. Nikki got over twice what second place got, so she'll probably win if it does go to a run-off.
Terry Branstad won Iowa by 10 points. Enough of a distance that Palin doesn't get blamed by hard-core conservatives for "taking it away" from VDP, and close enough to know that she had some impact.
The only one who didn't quite make it was Cecile Bledsoe in the Arkansas run-off. She lost to Womack by about 3%. No real matter. Steve is a good guy too.
All in all, a good day.
Even Andy Barr was impressed. Palin's Backing Pays Off:
Some of Sarah Palin’s riskiest endorsements scored major victories Tuesday for the former Alaska governor, showing off her power in Republican primaries.
Palin had four primary endorsements in play – Carly Fiorina, Nikki Haley, Terry Branstad and Cecile Bledsoe – and three won or moved on to a runoff.
Palin served different roles for each candidate – sometimes spotlighting conservatives not well known to the national scene while at others validating conservative credentials to an unsure grassroots and even stepping in to deflect nasty attacks.
Perhaps Palin’s most powerful demonstration came in South Carolina, where her endorsement propelled a major swing in the polls for Haley’s primary campaign for governor and sustained the state representative through accusations of two separate affairs.
"Her decision to get - and stay - involved in the race here in South Carolina was a huge boon to our campaign, because it caused a lot of South Carolinians to take a second look at a rising in the polls but once-little known state legislator who was fighting to give them back their government,” Haley spokesman Tim Pearson said of Palin.
Palin was quick to defend Haley from blogger Will Folks, who claimed to have had an “inappropriate physical relationship” with Haley, writing on her Facebook page that Folks was trying to “make things up.” Palin recorded a robocall for Haley in the closing days, urging South Carolinians to ignore the “made-up nonsense.”
For Fiorina, Palin bucked some of her own supporters in choosing the former Hewlett Packard chief executive over tea party favorite Chuck DeVore in the California Senate race.
After announcing her support for Fiorina, the former governor’s Facebook page was overrun by negative comments trashing Palin’s support of the more moderate candidate with strong establishment ties.
But Palin rebuffed her conservative critics by touting Fiorina’s pro-life credentials as well as her 100 percent NRA rating – thus helping build the conservative grassroots narrative the multimillionaire former businesswoman utilized to dispatch both DeVore and former Rep. Tom Campbell.
“Governor Palin’s endorsement was integral to the success of our campaign,” Fiorina spokeswoman Julie Soderlund told POLITICO. “She provides the ‘good housekeeping seal of approval’ for conservative, outsider candidates. After earning her endorsement we saw an immediate spike in support for Carly amongst conservatives, who represent the vast majority of Republican primary voters.”
Palin also surprised some conservatives with her endorsement of Terry Branstad in the Iowa gubernatorial race over Bob Vander Plaats, a top aide to Mike Huckabee’s 2008 operation in the state and a grassroots favorite.
As with Fiorina, Palin was able to successfully reassure many of her troubled fans that Branstad was indeed a strong conservative amidst protests on Facebook.
Palin frequently uses the Susan B. Anthony List as barometer of suitable conservative candidates, and, as with Fiorina, the group’s support of Bledsoe led Palin to the Arkansas House candidate.
Palin labeled Bledsoe one of the “mama grizzlies” the former governor contends are leading a new feminist movement, and the Arkansas state senator turned a distant second place showing a month ago into what looked like a narrow defeat at the hands of Rogers Mayor Steve Womack
In other news, I found some more pictures. Click on 'em to, as Hillbuzz would say, "embiggen." Horsephotos.com:
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