Opinions differ about Sarah Palin – everybody knows that. But what infuses debate over the governor with special energy is that we can’t even get to agreement on the basic facts.
Pro-Palin conservatives take it for granted that Palin is immensely popular and that she helped turn around McCain’s staggering campaign. Nothing seems to shake this view: not the polls showing that 63% of Americans say they would “never” consider voting for her, not evidence that McCain’s slide in the polls coincides not with the economic data, but with his choice of Palin as running mate, not Palin’s own precipitous collapse in public approval over the month of October 2008.
(There are a lot of numbers in this last link, but note particularly the CNN polls on the question about whether McCain/Obama/Biden/Palin have the qualities a leader should have. McCain began the fall campaign with 62% thinking him a good leader – and ended with the same 62%. Obama began at 62% and ended at 65%. Biden gained more: from 55% to 67%. And Palin? She plunged from 47% to 37%. By the end of the campaign 63% of Americans said she did NOT have the qualities a president should have.)
Here’s the latest installment in this alternative reality fiction.
I was interviewed on PBS last week about Palin’s book release. I said that Palin had an especially serious problem with women voters.
This is just fact, again recorded in every survey. In October 2008, Palin’s support dropped furthest and fastest among women, and especially among independents: more than two dozen points among independent women in barely 6 weeks. Consistently since the campaign, every survey has shown the former Alaska governor much more popular among men than women. And yet this attested statistical fact is shrugged off with comments like, “when I saw her campaign in N.H., I was surrounded by moms with strollers”
So let’s try to bang this one down for keeps.
Earlier this month, CNN/Opinion Research released a poll showing that only 28% of Americans now think Palin qualified for the presidency. 70% say she is unqualified. Even among Republicans, only 54% think she is qualified, 44% say No.
The published poll does not break these answers down by sex, but I asked my friends at the Political Unit for the cross-tabs, and here’s what they show:
While 33% of men deem Palin qualified, only 24% of women do. 66% of men deem her unqualified – and 74% of women.
Now look just at Republicans: Republican men deem Palin “qualified” by a margin of 60-38. But Republican women? Not even half think she is qualified: only 49%. 50% of Republican women say Palin is unqualified for the job.
If you like Palin – well go ahead. It’s a free country. But quit saying that “the people” love Sarah Palin.
They don’t. Actually, they quite dislike her. The longer they know her, the more they dislike her. And even more than they dislike her, they do not respect her. That reaction of dislike and disrespect is most concentrated among American women.
Sarah’s constituency is a relatively small cohort of conservative men. I offended a lot of these people last week by suggesting that there was some sexual dynamic at work in the enthusiasm for the politician whom Rush Limbaugh used to describe as “Governor Babe.” So let’s put it this way: Whatever impulse it is that so excites Palin supporters, it is not shared by their wives.