On her ability to woo moderates and independents:
One of the major components of Obama's success in the Democratic primaries was his appeal not only to his party's base voters but also to independent voters and disaffected Republicans. His post-partisan message resonated with voters sick of the status quo in Washington.On wooing women voters and disaffected Hillary supporters:
Sebelius is a living, breathing example of how politicians can transcend party boundaries and find success in a state in which the deck appears to be stacked against her.
In order to understand the magnitude of the challenge before any Kansas Democrat seeking statewide office, one need only look as far as the state's voter registration numbers. As of March 2008, there were 741,006 registered Republicans in Kansas and just 445,468 registered Democrats -- a massive 295,000 person difference. In fact, registered Democrats are not even the second-largest voting bloc in the state; that distinction goes to Kansas's 446,550 unaffiliated voters.
To win in such a challenging climate, Sebelius knew she had to try something different. In 2002 she recruited retired Cessna executive John Moore, a registered Republican, to run as her lieutenant governor. Four years later she one-upped herself by naming Mark Parkinson, the former chairman of the Kansas Republican party, to replace Moore on the ticket.
There's little question that the protracted primary fight between Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton left some lingering bad feelings -- particularly among women who felt the New York senator had been mistreated by the media and the Obama campaign.Her endorsement of Barack Obama:
What better way to heal that rift -- and avoid picking Clinton herself -- than naming a woman as his running mate, a decision that would make Sebelius only the second woman to be nominated for vice president by a major party. (The newly controversial Geraldine Ferraro was the first back in 1984 on a ticket that saw Sen. Walter Mondale lose 49 states to President Ronald Reagan.)
While it is a worthy debate as to whether the women most ardently supportive of Clinton would accept the choice of anyone other than their candidate as the VP nominee, for the vast majority of female voters it could provide considerable impetus to turn out in the fall.
Remember that women have made up a majority of all voters in the last two presidential elections -- 54 percent in 2004, 52 percent in 2000. And then there's the fact that the lack of a gender gap in 2004 may well have doomed John Kerry's chances of defeating George W. Bush: In 2000, Al Gore won women 54 percent to 43 percent over Bush; four years later, Kerry won women by a narrower 51 percent to 48 percent margin.
Those numbers provide a stark reminder for Democrats: Women comprise one of the most important -- if not the most important -- blocs of their winning coalition. Putting Sebelius on the ticket would almost certainly excite women across the country and ensure the reinstatement of the sort of gender gap Gore enjoyed in 2000.
Her Democratic response to last year's State of the Union address: