Move over Obama-mania. Make way for the Palin Effect.
Three polls this week in Florida, the nation's biggest battleground state, show that vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin is helping John McCain break away from Barack Obama.
The keys: the support of women and the history-making buzz she's generating on television and in celebrity mags.
For the first time this campaign season, McCain now leads Obama among Florida women -- 47 percent to 45 percent -- according to a survey of likely voters released Thursday by Quinnipiac University. Obama leads among women in the other polls, which nevertheless show him losing ground due to the Palin pick.
The numbers spell trouble for the Democrat and potential success for the Republican because strong backing by women often ensures a win in Florida. As the state goes, the nation often follows.
And television leads the way. In a state as large as Florida, campaigns spend outsized time and money in 10 media markets, which together reflect virtually every major voting bloc in the nation.
But it's more than just television. Palin is dominating political Web chats, drawing giddy crowds, gracing glossy celebrity magazines and offering witty one-liners, with a life story made for the 24-hour news cycle.
''The context of Palin's place in history is this: Modern politics have been taken over by the entertainment industry,'' said presidential historian Allan Lichtman of American University. 'This is a phenomenon this nation hasn't seen, where a vice presidential candidate could -- I say, `could' -- make a real difference and put a candidate in the White House.''
Lichtman also noted the McCain campaign is benefiting from the very celebrity attention for which it once mocked Obama.