Are you drowning in Sarah Palin coverage? According to the Lycos report this morning, Internet users can’t get enough of her. For the week ending 8/30, searches for “Sarah Palin” increased by 700%, eclipsing both the Democratic National Convention, up 235%, and Hurricane Gustav, up 415%, combined. She even moved more than American Idol, up 560%. Now that’s saying something, folks.
Yesterday morning, EMILY’s List released the results of a Garin-Hart-Yang Poll they commissioned on what women voters and Hillary Clinton supporters think about Palin. The poll surveyed 800 likely Republican, Democratic, and Independent voters and asked them what they feel about the McCain / Palin ticket as opposed to the Obama / Biden ticket. It should be noted that the poll was conducted last Sunday and Monday, so some of the voters were questioned before the news broke about Bristol Palin’s pregnancy and some were questioned afterward.
The overall takeaway of the poll seemed to be that McCain’s choice of Palin was a choice made out of political expediency, a choice that would alienate Clinton voters, and a choice that showed a serious misjudgment of women voters. Only 20% of the respondents believed that McCain chose Palin because she has the experience and qualifications to be Vice President, as compared to 59% who believed it was a politically expedient choice. Further, the choice seems to have neutralized McCain’s prior advantage on the experience question, where McCain showed a 35 point lead over Obama in the beginning of August. In this poll, however, the Obama / Biden ticket took the lead on the experience, background, and knowledge question by a 52 – 37 margin.
Voters in the center, “soft” McCain voters, and undecideds seemed to have the greatest issues with Palin, especially on the issues of choice, stem cell research, funding for optional pre-K, and funding for drop-out prevention programs. 41% of those polled did find her narrative appealing, but 38% did not (very little or not at all), whereas 64% found Biden’s narrative appealing and only 17% did not (very little or not at all).
Most striking, perhaps, is that respondents indicated, by a margin of 53 – 35, that the Obama / Biden ticket better understands the issues and concerns important to women voters and that this is particularly true of former Hillary Clinton voters. If McCain thought that the Palin ticket would attract Clinton voters, he appears to have been seriously mistaken. This poll shows that Obama has 54% of the Clinton voters polled and the pollsters found that the more these women voters learn about Palin, the less likely they are to support her and the more solidified they become around the Obama / Biden ticket.
With the speech she gave last night at the Republican National Convention, however, her popularity is sure to increase. For my part, I thought she did a great job. She was poised and engaging. On the other hand, she was also sarcastic and condescending. On a DNC response conference call this morning, Gov. Kathleen Sebelius and Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz continuously emphasized the lack of substance in Palin’s speech. Yes, she did an excellent job in bashing the Democrats, a job historically assigned to the VP candidate. I suppose it is refreshing that after her interview with Kudlow & Co wondering what a VP does, she grabbed that particular role with relish. It would have been more refreshing, however, if we had heard some policy out of the speech last night. As Sebelius and Wasserman Schultz noted, the American people, particularly those not in the Hall last night, would have certainly liked to hear what the McCain / Palin administration would do to address healthcare, education, job outsourcing, etc. I’m with Gov. Sebelius: I hope to hear more policy and less attack out of McCain tonight, but I’m not optimistic.
Gov. Palin (have you noticed how many pundits refer to her as Sen. Palin?) has a steep learning curve and the American people have a lot to learn about her, though she made a nice, splashy introduction last night. She took the gloves off, which can only be a good thing for Joe Biden heading into the VP debate (10/2). I personally think that Biden will decimate her in the debate, if the moderator (Gwen Ifill) plays fair. Between now and then, though, there will be many more polls and much more reaction and, perhaps, even a Palin press conference (gasp). I’ll keep you posted.