Republican poll ratings have been falling day by day – and now the ‘Troopergate’ scandal has turned the Hockey Mom from Alaska into a liability for a campaign that has lost its way, writes Paul Harris for The Observer.

“The enormous microscope of a presidential campaign has magnified an obscure staffing dispute in Alaska – over whether Palin pursued a family vendetta against state trooper Mike Wooten – into a major political story. With the release of a damaging report this weekend that concluded Palin did abuse the powers of her office, her political trajectory has once again changed course. Gone are the dreams of Palin bringing in the desperately needed independent voters, former Hillary Clinton supporters and soft Democrats John McCain‘s campaign need so much. Instead she has now been firmly assigned to the traditional role of the vice-presidential candidate: attack dog.”

“It is a role she does well and it plays to the Republican base. There is still no doubting that Palin can powerfully move a Republican crowd. Her angry attacks on Obama stir supporters far more effectively than does McCain’s more measured style. But she is now largely reduced to stumping in the rural Republican heartlands of America. She is a powerful tool in working up the party base, ensuring that they turn out on election day, but her crossover appeal has gone. Indeed, even Republican critics of Palin have been stamped on for questioning her. Several high-profile conservative writers – such as David Brooks in the New York Times and Kathleen Parker in the National Review – have poured scorn on her. Brooks even called her ‘a fatal cancer on the Republican party’.”

Read the full story here.