Palin Power: Fresh Face Now More Popular Than Obama, McCain

This poll, taken just after the Palin acceptance speech, demonstrates how severely she has been underestimated. This story is from Yahoo News

Palin Power: Fresh Face Now More Popular Than Obama, McCain
Fri Sep 5, 12:04 PM ET

A week ago, most Americans had never heard of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin. Now, following a Vice Presidential acceptance speech viewed live by more than 40 million people, Palin is viewed favorably by 58% of American voters. The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 37% hold an unfavorable view of the self-described hockey mom.

The figures include 40% with a Very Favorable opinion of Palin and 18% with a Very Unfavorable view. Before her acceptance speech, Palin was viewed favorably by 52%. A week ago, 67% had never heard of her.

The new data also shows significant increases in the number who say McCain made the right choice and the number who say Palin is ready to be President. Generally, John McCain’s choice of Palin earns slightly better reviews than Barack Obama’s choice of Joe Biden.

Perhaps most stunning is the fact that Palin’s favorable ratings are now a point higher than either man at the top of the Presidential tickets this year. As of Friday morning, Obama and McCain are each viewed favorably by 57% of voters. Biden is viewed favorably by 48%.

There is a strong partisan gap when it comes to perceptions of Palin. Eighty-nine percent (89%) of Republicans give her favorable reviews along with 33% of Democrats and 59% of voters not affiliated with either major party.

She earns positive reviews from 65% of men and 52% of women. The Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll shows that Obama continues to lead McCain among women voters while McCain leads among men. The Friday morning update — the first to include interviews conducted after Palin’s speech–showed the beginning of a Republican convention bounce that may match Obama’s bounce from last week.

Fifty-one percent (51%) of Americans believe that most reporters are trying to hurt Palin’s campaign, a fact that may enhance her own ratings.

The Palin pick has also improved perceptions of John McCain. A week ago, just before he introduced his running mate, just 42% of Republicans had a Very Favorable opinion of their party’s nominee. That figure jumped to 54% by this Friday morning. Among unaffiliated voters, favorable opinions of McCain have increased by eleven percentage points in a week from 54% before the Palin announcement to 65% today.

Although my opinion of McCain is as far from favorable as I can imagine, this bold move did improve my opinion of him. Not much, but for him to pick any woman after Obama declined that opportunity shows he is not as stuck on playing it safe. Jo Freeman wrote an interesting article thanking McCain for putting women back on the front burner.

Sarah Palin: A Risky Move and A Gift to the Women’s Movement

Thank you, John McCain!

Never thought I would say those words, but McCain’s selection of Alaska governor Sarah Palin was a godsend to the women’s movement.

With Hillary out of the picture, there was a serious possibility that women and women’s issues would be ignored in the 2008 election. After all, there are so many other concerns fighting for air time from the candidates. Iraq, Afghanistan, the economy, housing, climate change, budget deficits ….the list goes on and on. The Bush Presidency has left us holding so many problems that “women” could well have dropped to the bottom of the list.

Not now.

Women have been roughly 60 percent of the Democratic base since 1980. Since anyone who looks at the platforms of the two parties knows that women’s interests (well … the feminist view of women’s interests) are best served by the Democrats, the Party has tended to take the women’s vote for granted.

There’s been a lot of talk in the last few years about how the Democrats need to appeal to men more, because white men are more likely to vote Republican. McCain’s selection of a woman as a running-mate puts the women’s vote into play.

His choice for VP indicates that he thinks he can shave off a piece of that population who are still unhappy with how Hillary was treated. It’s a small piece, but a small piece of a large population is still a lot of votes. It was a bold choice. A brilliant choice. A risky choice.

Like Hillary’s 2008 run for President, Ferraro’s 1984 run for the second spot brought all sorts of sexism out of the closet. It was an eye-opener for everyone. In the end, this bold, risky choice didn’t seem to affect the outcome. The exit polls showed that having a woman on the ticket was a prime concern for only a few. These voters about equally divided between those who told pollsters that they voted for a woman and those who said they voted against one.

Ferraro’s candidacy had a bigger effect on those who answered the annual polling question (in a different poll): Would you vote for “a well-qualified woman of your own party for President”? After Ferraro a party gap appeared. Republicans were 50 percent more likely than Democrats to answer “No.” Republicans have continued to say they would not vote for a well-qualified (but unnamed) woman for President at a much higher rate than Democrats.

Wonder what they will tell the pollsters this year?

If this Rasmussen poll is any indication, Republicans have closed that gap. Eight out of nine Republicans gave Palin favorable reviews after her speech. Democrats underestimate her at their peril. They may believe Bush is so unpopular that Obama will win by a landslide, but far more people do not view McCain as a Bush clone than Democrats would like to believe. McCain agrees with Bush on most issues, but Obama does not represent the kind of change his followers want to believe. On issues such as Afghanistan, Pakistan, Georgia, Israel, Hamas, clean coal, nuclear power, agrofuels, the medical procedure so misleadingly termed partial-birth abortion, genetic engineering, free trade, it is not easy to distinguish Obama from Bush or McCain. Is that just a matter of strategy, or is that what Obama means by ending the partisan divide, working with Republicans?

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