I gave this several days to settle my thoughts before i posted.
Two days after the announcement, i continue to believe that this is a brilliant pick on McCain's part.
1. The republican base are totally excited. She has all the right marks (reformer, gun toting hunter, pro-life, family oriented, and conservative) to appeal to the conservative base more so than McCain does. Reading the internet boards, many who would not have voted for McCain are now actually excited and even donating money to his campaign (supposedly 6 million dollars within 24 hours of her announcement). For many Reps, she (along with Glenn Steel and Bobby Jindal) represent the future for the Reps. She energizes his base to donate and vote for him.
2. She has lots of appeal to independent. She is a working mom from a middle class family, and have made a success out of herself in the frontiers of Alaska. She is also not a lawyer, ivy league educated, or a professional politician. Other than being a working "hockey mom" her sex has nothing to do with her selection and no, i do not believe she will likely convert many hardcore Hillaristas to the Reps. She doesn't need to. If she can motivate independent working moms to vote for McCain/Palin and reminds the Hillaristas of how Hillary was cast aside, this will be enough. Every time the Obama team criticizes her ability to juggle work and motherhood, they will alienate another Hillarista. She has lots of appeal for independent.
3. Her experience and readiness on first glance appears to be a weakness, but politically a strength for McCain. Firstly, she is joining McCain's team, thus his strength will become her strength; she doesn't have to recruit or build an advising team. She will likely be brought up to speed by McCain's team on her weak areas regarding foreign policy and diplomacy. And her fresh eyes in these areas would be a plus as well. Secondly she does have executive experience that not Obama, Biden, or even McCain have. This means she has made decisions to make things happen as Governor and her judgment appears to have been excellent thus. She has good character. Thirdly while some Reps might bemoan her lack of experience, they will likely vote for McCain anyway. Compared to Obama she is certainly no worse. Finally, every time the Dems brings up the issue of her lack of experience, Obama's lack of experience will be considered as well. She is running for VPotUS, he is running for PotUS. It is a bait and a trap for Obama's team that they will fall into again and again. She reminds everyone of Obama's weakness.
4. She has a track record of fighting for reform against the establishment. This demonstrate ability, willingness, and integrity to enact change; Obama has only talked about change. Politically, this is a huge strength to counter one of Obama's platform of promised changed (she has already enacted change!). Secondly, her ability to have enacted reforms will make her a formidable opponent against Biden without the baggage Pawlenty, Huckabee or Romney bring. Yet she will likely be underestimated by Biden, regardless of how much warning Biden receives not to do so. She undermines Obama's message of change, his perceived strength.
5. With her on the ticket, it makes it a bit harder for Obama to level the charge of "4 more years of the same as Bush" against McCain. She is from the hinterland after all, both geographically and political establishment/DC beltway wise. In addition, he is no longer just another "old rich white republican guy running for office." His historical precedence is being countered. She provides a shield for McCain against Obama.
In summary, a brilliant political pick by McCain, which in itself improves his standing.
McCain choosing Palin.
Palin commands Alaska Missile defense units.
Palin quotes regarding foreign affairs.
Hillaristas comment on Palin.