“It made me like McCain a little more,” said Judith France, 62, of Thornville, Ohio. “They always say he was a maverick, and this made me think, well, he really is. He went all the way to Alaska — there aren’t that many people up there, they don’t have that many electoral votes — and he picked this person. I know people will say she’s inexperienced. But she’s been a governor for 20 months. That’s more experience than Obama has.”
Ms. France-Kremin, 36, who lives nearby in Dublin, an affluent suburb of Columbus, likewise has qualms about the seasoning of Mr. Obama, a first-term United States senator after eight years as a state senator. But she also strongly favors abortion rights, and Ms. Palin — more prominently than Mr. McCain — does not.
“That sealed my decision,” said Ms. France-Kremin, who added that she would no longer consider voting for Mr. McCain.
At offices, plant floors, stores and parks across America, voters who had barely started hashing over Mr. Obama’s acceptance speech Thursday night at the Democrats’ convention were beginning a new national conversation about Mr. McCain’s unexpected decision to put the first woman on a major party national ticket since Geraldine A. Ferraro was the Democratic vice-presidential choice of Walter F. Mondale in 1984.
The choice is playing out in complicated ways, judging from interviews with dozens of women nationwide.
Some, particularly women leaning toward a Republican ticket or who share Ms. Palin’s staunch anti-abortion views, see it as a winning choice that they can happily embrace. But others, particularly the undecided women Mr. McCain is trying to reach, say this is the wrong woman, lacking experience and on the wrong side of the issues, like abortion, the Iraq war and the environment, that matter most to them.
Some Clinton stalwarts took offense, saying they felt as if Mr. McCain had decided that, for women disappointed that they could not vote for Mrs. Clinton, any woman would do. “It’s an insult,” said Jan Roller, a Clinton delegate from Cleveland, as she arrived home from the convention. “You have to be qualified for the job.”
Darlene Pace, a 65-year-old corporate accountant and independent voter from southeastern Pennsylvania — which, like Ohio, is an election battleground — voted for Mrs. Clinton in the Democratic primary last April. Weeks ago, Mrs. Pace told a caller for a New York Times/CBS News poll that she was undecided about whether to vote for Mr. Obama or Mr. McCain. It would depend on their vice-presidential picks, she said then.
“So I was very disappointed” to learn of Mr. McCain’s choice, Mrs. Pace said Friday, hours after the selection of Ms. Palin was announced. “No one in my office has any idea about her, and the only comment I’m hearing, which is not good, is that ‘she’s a woman and that’s why she was picked.’?”
Still, while Mrs. Pace says she now leans toward Mr. Obama, she is withholding judgment until she has watched the Republican convention this week.
But some Republican-leaning women immediately showed new enthusiasm for a Republican ticket that badly needed it, given the energy of Obama supporters.
Shopping at a suburban mall in Michigan on Friday, Cathy Gates, 40, a registered Republican and a mother of two who calls herself a “football mom,” said that the Palin pick was “a big risk” but that it “makes me feel a little better” about voting for Mr. McCain.
“She does appeal to me,” Ms. Gates said. “You would feel she has the same values as you. Having a child with Down syndrome, and being the governor, and she calls herself a hockey mom. I was impressed. She’s very pretty and seems very smart. I hope it works out.”
Some Democratic-leaning women, as well, welcomed Mr. McCain’s barrier-breaking choice as some consolation after their dashed hopes of having a woman at the top of the ticket.
“I wish the Democratic Party had the courage” to pick a woman, said Kimberly Myers, a retired transit worker in Pittsburgh who supported Mrs. Clinton in Pennsylvania’s primary and said she now planned to vote for Mr. McCain.
Ms. Myers said she also saw a bonus in the choice of Ms. Palin: “The fact that she’s a working mom will send a message to America that you don’t have to choose children over career.”
But many saw her as intrinsically unfit, an obscure governor from the faraway 49th state, with no national standing and no experience on the foreign stage.