Palin’s Favorability Ratings Begin to Falter

Newsweek Associate Editor Andrew Romano, in an article published on September 16, 2008, notes the sharp decline in GOP Vice Presidential candidate Governor Sarah Palin’s favorability rates since September 13, 2008.  ~ Sarah Palin Truth Squad

To know her, it seems, is not necessarily to love her.

When John McCain picked Sarah Palin as his running mate late last month, the Alaska governor quickly became a media phenomenon. Largely unknown, she existed at first in something of an information vacuum, and due to the shock of her selection–everyone loves a surprise–the press rushed to fill the void with whatever data was easily available. Mostly this consisted of human interest material; Palin had plenty to go around. Mooseburgers. Float planes. Ice Fishing. Beauty pageants. Teen pregnancy. Et cetera. By the end of her first 15 minutes in the spotlight–which included her speech at the Republican National Convention in St. Paul–Palin existed mostly as an idea: a frontier supermom who’d triumphed over adversity (the Ol’ Boys Club, the “liberal media”). Palin spent her first week reading from a teleprompter and avoiding questions from the press–and the public–so as not to sully this positive first impression.

The polls reflected the early success of her strategy. In the three days after Palin joined Team McCain–Aug. 29-31–32 percent of voters told the pollsters at Diageo/Hotline that they had a favorable opinion of her; most (48 percent) didn’t know enough to say. (The Diageo/Hotline poll is conducted by Financial Dynamics opinion research; it’s the only daily tracking poll to regularly publish approval ratings.) By Sept. 4, however, 43 percent of Diageo/Hotline respondents approved of Palin with only 25 percent disapproving–an 18-point split. Apparently, voters were liking what they were hearing. Four days later, Palin’s approval rating had climbed to 47 percent (+17), and by Sept. 13 it had hit 52 percent. The gap at that point between her favorable and unfavorable numbers–22 percent–was larger than either McCain’s (+20) or Obama’s (+13).

But then a funny thing happened: Palin seems to have lost some of her luster. Since Sept. 13, Palin’s unfavorables have climbed from 30 percent to 36 percent. Meanwhile, her favorables have slipped from 52 percent to 48 percent. That’s a three-day net swing of -10 points, and it leaves her in the Sept. 15 Diageo/Hotline tracking poll tied for the smallest favorability split (+12) of any of the Final Four. Over the course of a single weekend, in other words, Palin went from being the most popular White House hopeful to the least. 

Palin’s Favorability Ratings Begin to Falter

UPDATE, 2:27 p.m.: Also, it doesn’t help when McCain’s Victory 2008 chair Carly Fiorina, the former CEO of Hewlett-Packard, tells a St. Louis radio host that Palin would’ve been unqualified to lead HP–a slightly less demanding role than leading the free world. Today’s exchange:

HOST: “Do you think she has the experience to run a major company like Hewlett Packard?” 

FIORINA: “No, I don’t. But that’s not what she’s running for.”

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