"As always, proud to be American! Thanks, Commonsense Constitutional Conservatives,u didn't sit down & shut up...u "refudiated" extreme left"—so tweeted Sarah Palin on Election Night, demonstrating characteristic optimism in the face of what was decidedly a mixed bag for her politically.
Palin will point to a positive win-loss record—49 of her 77 candidates triumphed, (5 races had yet to be called by Friday midday.) But many of the highest-profile races, where she had loudly interjected herself, her candidates—Sharron Angle in Nevada, Christine O'Donnell in Delaware, and John Raese in West Virginia—lost.
Even in her home state of Alaska, her help seems to have been less than helpful. Joe Miller, the GOP candidate and Palin protégé, ended up having to fight off the write-in candidate Lisa Murkowski, and even a last-minute bit of McMentum—when Democratic candidate, Scott McAdams suddenly seemed to rally. By late Tuesday night, that race had still not been called, but Murkowski was leading.
If there was a silver lining for the former Alaska Governor, it came in the form of Nikki Haley in South Carolina, Susana Martinez in New Mexico, and Mary Fallin in Oklahoma—the first time women won governorships in those three states.
Using her favorite medium to take aim at her favorite target, Palin tweeted on Tuesday about the media, and specifically the Today Show: "Silly fellas! Chucky, remember, I'm not on ballot."
Did they rise up as Palin predicted?
But in a sense she was. The election may have been a vote on Obama and the Democrats. But for many watching, the most widely anticipated other referendum was how well Palin would do. Of her 77 candidates around the nation, 20 are women—in the Palin vernacular, her Mama Grizzlies who, she had predicted, would " rise up on their hind legs."
But judging by Tuesday's results, this was hardly an uprising and the high-profile losses overshadowed the more numerous wins.
The most significant defeat for her was clearly Angle—Palin spent the entire campaign cycle telling the electorate that Reid had to be retired, headlining a Tea Party rally in his hometown of Searchlight in early spring and later kicking off the Tea Party Express bus tour in the state in late October. "We can see 2012 from our house!" she told the excited crowd.
• Election Reactions from Beast writers • Lloyd Grove: Capitol Hill’s New Ruling Class• Palin’s Anti-Palin Bloggers Christine O'Donnell's loss to Chris Coons in the Delaware Senate race was hardly surprising. But it still left Palin on the defensive on Tuesday night. "Christine defeated in a deep blue state is not a surprise, but it is a disappointment for those who wanted to see a shake up there," she said. It was Palin's endorsement right before the primary that helped O'Donnell become the GOP candidate, and the most talked-about candidate of the cycle. (Of course those old Bill Maher appearances and the talk of witchcraft helped a bit, too.) Later, when Karl Rove took expressed concern about O'Donnell's "character," charging her with saying "a lot of nutty things," Palin quickly came to O'Donnell's defense telling Rove to "buck up."
Among the Papa Grizzlies, Palin's last-minute stumping for John Raese in West Virginia didn't catapult him to the Senate—Raese still lost to Democrat Joe Manchin, in what had become a must-win race for Democrats.
In her home state, Palin fought hard for Miller, tweeting, facebooking and appearing at rallies in his support. But some observers believed she was actually hurting her favorite by mobilizing his opposition.
In the most expensive House race in the country, Tea Party darling—and Palin pick, Michele Bachmann held on to her Minnesota seat. According to Fox News her supporters in the House (and those about to join her) are trying to get her seated as the House Republican Conference Chairperson, the fourth-ranking GOP position.
Finally, there had been speculation that Palin's endorsement would hurt the former New Hampshire attorney general Kelly Ayotte in her Senate race against Democratic Congressman Paul Hodes, but Ayotte won the seat. Ayotte, Haley and Terry Brandstad, the new Iowa Governor, may prove to be a great allies in these primary states, should Palin chose to run in 2012.
Shushannah Walshe covers politics for The Daily Beast. She is the co-author of Sarah From Alaska: The Sudden Rise and Brutal Education of a New Conservative Superstar. She was a reporter and producer at the Fox News Channel from August 2001 until the end of the 2008 presidential campaign.