Sarah Palin’s Woman Problem

November 23rd, 2009 at 5:00 pm David Frum | 117 Comments |

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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, advice 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.

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117 Comments so far ↓

  • NC-Czar

    Could it be that David is worried that Sarah is going to get all the good looking men and leave none for him???? I prefer to think that David is another elitist who doesn’t get how 60% of America hates the unholy cabal of media/political and intellectual elitists and doesn’t understand why we are tired of having them tell us what’s good for us and do as we’re told…the times, they are a changing, David….

  • DFL

    I think you are about right about Sarah Palin, TallChick.

    Sarah Palin was a fine governor of one of the more unusual states of the union, a state loaded with natural resources, a small, very white population, and no income tax. At this stage, she is shallow intellectually and apparently has no brain-trust beyond her fisherman-roughneck husband, Todd. That she has a fairly good chance of winning the Republican nomination in 2012 shows not only how barren the talent is in the Republican Party but the mental exhaustion of the GOP.

  • CentristNYer

    NC-Czar // Nov 24, 2009 at 12:41 pm

    “I prefer to think that David is another elitist.”

    What is the absolutely pathological obsession on Frum Forum with this word “elitist”? It’s like when a child discovers a curse word, really doesn’t understand what it means and yet can’t stop saying it over and over again.

    And why would you “prefer” to think of David this way? What crazy joy do you get from imputing motivations that are way off base? Why is that if you can’t accept some people (aka most of the country) simply find Palin shallow, bereft of seriousness and not suited intellectually or temperamentally for the Oval Office? What’s wrong with wanting someone talented and above average to run the country? Why is that “elitist”?

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  • NC-Czar

    CentristNYer
    What’s wrong with wanting someone talented and above average to run the country? Why is that “elitist”?
    This is how we got Barack Obama to be President….sycophantic-elitists from both sides of the aisle elected one of their own….no more lawyers….no more Harvard/Yale/Princeton surrender-monkeys allowed!

  • NC-Czar

    Sarah is climbing in the Rassmusen Poll:

    Fifty-nine percent (59%) of Republican voters say former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin shares the values of most GOP voters throughout the nation.

    A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that just 21% of Republican voters disagree and think the 2008 vice presidential candidate does not share their values. Twenty percent (20%) are undecided.

  • CentristNYer

    NC-Czar // Nov 24, 2009 at 2:14 pm

    “This is how we got Barack Obama to be President….sycophantic-elitists from both sides of the aisle elected one of their own….no more lawyers….no more Harvard/Yale/Princeton surrender-monkeys allowed!”

    That’s what I thought: you really don’t have an answer. You’ve got a World Net Daily talking point.

  • NC-Czar

    RE: CentristNYer

    I don’t read the WND Talking points like you do. I do admit taking a term from Homer Simpson when he called the French, “cheese-eating, surrender-monkeys” and in acquiring the later-term, I added the prelude myself….contrary to your opinion, I can read and put together thoughts on my own accord.

  • ottovbvs

    TallChick // Nov 24, 2009 at 12:07 pm

    “Mr. Frum has statistics to back him up, but here’s a gut reaction from a George Bush republican who likes reading NRO and Townhall.”

    …….What are statistics when you have objective commetary from NRO and Townhall

    “This is how we got Barack Obama to be President….sycophantic-elitists from both sides of the aisle elected one of their own….no more lawyers….no more Harvard/Yale/Princeton surrender-monkeys allowed!”

    …….The highly intelligent, highly educated and competent are barred from the presidency…… or at least the Republican nomination for the presidency…..only nincompoops need apply

    “Fifty-nine percent (59%) of Republican voters say former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin shares the values of most GOP voters throughout the nation.”

    …….That’s no secret……. she is an optimal representative of two thirds of today’s Republican party

  • sinz54

    TallChick: Maybe she isn’t quite presidential timber, but I was happier about pulling the lever for McCain with her on the ticket. She had the most executive experience of anyone on either ticket.
    That why my expectations for the next President were so low, whether his last name would turn out to be Obama or McCain.

    I had no confidence that any of these clowns could run a trillion-dollar enterprise like the U.S. Government.

  • sinz54

    MI-GOPer: I said, here and elsewhere, that what sticks in the craw of all these democrat activist trolls is that Sarah Palin is pulling ahead of Obama on favorables
    Actually, what sticks in their craw is that they can’t figure out a way to bludgeon the half of America who doesn’t approve of Obama’s policies into shutting up and allowing liberals to run the country any way they want.

  • sinz54

    sdspringy: “True Christian” has faith in the teachings of Christ. That does not imply that any mortal can obtain 100%, without fail, complete compliance with the entire scope of the teachings.
    Humility has been notably lacking in the political campaigns of the Religious Right.

    The clear implication has been that social conservatives believe that they are MORALLY superior to liberal morals and to the “gay lifestyle” and so on.

    You made moral superiority into a political stance. And so if you fall short morally, you are going to fall short politically.

  • sinz54

    balconesfault: Hmmm… the way I recall, it really started when she began giving interviews, and demonstrated her not-ready-for-Prime Timeness.
    No.

    The piling on began with the revelations about Bristol. It was already happening by the time Palin formally accepted the GOP nomination at the convention.

  • sinz54

    anniemargaret: She poses in shorts, then appears to act surprised when the media uses it, winks and blows kisses. Women instinctively know that if they want to be taken seriously, they don’t pose in shorts, wink or blow kisses. I think Marilyn did the same in Some Like It Hot. Women find it demeaning in a person seeking high office.
    As someone who spent most of his career in large corporations, I can tell you this:

    No one is more hated by female employees, than a female who uses her sex appeal to win raises and promotions from male bosses. In fact, these days it could be construed as sexual harassment.

  • sinz54

    MI-GOPer: John Fund has documented in his column that the democrat trolls and lawyers –much of the same sleazy ilk & soulmates as we find here in this thread– were already in Wasilla looking for trash, beginning at the public library, that Sunday morning.
    But every political party does opposition research on every opposition candidate.

    The media started piling on long before this opposition research in Wasilla had found anything. The revelation that Bristol was pregnant was a bombshell. Gleeful liberals at HuffPo and other liberal blogs ran with it immediately. So did Andrew Sullivan.

    Had the Dems found something about the Alaska pipeline or political deals Palin had made, it wouldn’t have made such a splash. But the daughter of a social conservative having a baby out of wedlock? Liberals actually SAID that was too “delicious” (their word) to pass up.

    I repeat: Go read the archives of the blogs from back then, go read Google News from back then. Use archive.org if you must.

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