Palin Worries Some Floridians, Could Help Obama

John McCain’s campaign faces quite a dilemma.

Their running mate, Sarah Palin, has proven effective in electrifying crowds across the country. So much so, in fact, that she’s been outshining McCain, the Republican presidential candidate.

That alone’s enough to be worrisome – voters vote for the president, not the vice-president, and McCain’s lackluster public persona could become a handicap come November. But there’s further indication that the McCain camp may want to pull in Palin.

A St. Petersburg Times tally of undecided voters shows that Palin, a politico with fundamentalist tendencies, has negatively impacted some people’s opinion of McCain:

Five weeks ago, the St. Petersburg Times convened a group of Tampa Bay voters who were undecided about the presidential election. Their strong distrust of Barack Obama suggested it was a group ripe for John McCain to win over.

Not anymore. The group has swung dramatically, if unenthusiastically, toward Democrat Obama. Most of them this week cited the same reason: Sarah Palin.

Of the 11 undecided voters participating in the discussion one recent evening at the Times – four Republicans, five Democrats, and two registered to no party – only two Republican men applauded the selection of Palin.

Nobody had finalized a choice, but seven of the panelists said that McCain’s running mate selection had made them more likely to vote for Obama, and in several cases much more likely.

Eighty-year old veteran Donn Spegal says that he’s “frightened” of Palin, whom he equated with an “‘ideologue.” Full-time mother of five Philinia Lehr said she’s “offended” by the candidate, especially with regard to the “appalling” exploitation of her 17-year old pregnant daughter, Bristol.

Florida’s an extremely important state and this anti-Palin attitude may be good for Democratic rival Barack Obama. The Senator from Illinois is currently within one or two points of John McCain, who leads with about 47% of Floridian voters.

Despite people’s hesitancy over Palin, the Alaska Governor drew thousands to a solitary campaign stop in the Sunshine State this weekend, with people waiting 90 minutes simply to park their cars.