Sarah Palin Favorability Ratings

by John Sides on September 15, 2008 · 13 comments

in Campaigns and elections

Out of curiosity, I made this graph of Palin’s favorability ratings (data here, here, and here; this may not be exhaustive):

palin.png

This is a nice lesson—e.g., for an undergraduate class—in the process of “opinionation,” where a large fraction of the public suddenly acquires an opinion.

In the last week, Palin’s favorability rating has, well, paled. This demonstrates the consequences of a highly visible campaign: it is difficult for any Republican or Democrat candidate to command sustained attention without attracting roughly equal proportions of detractors and admirers. In a September 4 Rasmussen poll, Palin’s favorability was 1 point higher than McCain’s or Obama’s. Nine days later, according to a Sept. 13 poll by Daily Kos, it is slightly lower than theirs (49% vs. 55%; however, given the margin of error, it isn’t conclusively lower).

Of course, we would expect the usual polarization along partisan lines here, with most Democratic respondents having an unfavorable opinion and most Republican respondents having a favorable opinion.

{ 13 comments }

Logan September 16, 2008 at 12:04 am

I’d be surprised if Palin’s favorables were all that different from McCain’s for the duration of the campaign.

In a few weeks, very few people will be looking at Palin as an individual; just, better or worse, as a member of the republican ticket.

Andrew September 16, 2008 at 7:07 am

John,

Great graph. Just a few comments.

I recommend you make the sort of graph where two lines divide the vertical region between 0 and 100% into three subregions corresponding to favorable (on the bottom), no opinion (in the middle), and unfavorable (on top). as in, for example, the graph on the bottom of p.81 of Red State, Blue State.

I’d also average the dots for each day so you can just connect the lines. I don’t think you gain anything from having multiple dots per day.

Finally, your y-axis should go from 0 to 100. (Currently it goes below 0 which is a bit misleading.)

John Sides September 16, 2008 at 10:12 am

Logan: I tend to agree. Only a dramatic event — more dramatic than a tanning bed, like maybe a felony indictment — would lead people to differentiate Palin from McCain.

Andy: I fixed the y-axis. But I kept the data points and fit lines simply to show the (sparse) raw data.

Joel September 16, 2008 at 2:07 pm

On a semi-related note (well, related to my research, anyway). can I be the last to pile on David Brooks for his casual abuse of political science?

His piece yesterday, entitled “Why Experiencer Matters” offers, among other gems, this:

“Democracy is not average people selecting average leaders. It is average people with the wisdom to select the best prepared.”

My reaction simply put: really? While it may be that Brooks has accurately described one vision of (representative) democracy, he has cavalierly discarded another version of at least equal validity and provenance.

WRT Palin, however, her lack of experience doesn’t necessarily mean that she’s “average” in any other sense …

Toast September 16, 2008 at 2:53 pm

it is difficult for any Republican or Democrat candidate to command sustained attention without attracting roughly equal proportions of detractors and admirers.

Why “roughly equal”? That’s the thing that baffles me: How on Earth can we still be at an even split after the events of the last eight years?

Logan September 16, 2008 at 3:37 pm

Toast: 50.7% of voters voted for Bush in 04.

Even if a lot of Bush voters don’t like Bush anymore, I don’t see how Obama can appeal to most of those 50.7%

Davis X. Machina September 16, 2008 at 4:04 pm

How on Earth can we still be at an even split after the events of the last eight years?

Because we’re the Saudi Arabia of stupid — the world’s largest provable reserves, and we’ll pump as much as you’ll take.

emilruebe September 16, 2008 at 5:57 pm

@Logan: You are probably right that Obama does not appeal to most of the 2000/2004 Bush voters, but I hope (from my European standpoint) that he is going to appeal to some of the non-voters. Plus some of the Bush-voters hopefully stay away from electing BushIII.
So voter turnout seems to be the key.

Berken September 16, 2008 at 11:02 pm

Why “roughly equal”? That’s the thing that baffles me: How on Earth can we still be at an even split after the events of the last eight years?

Joel, if everyone followed the same news sources you and most of the rest of the commenters here follow, you question would be unanswerable. However, few if any of the Bush voters get their news from anywhere but right-wing radio and TV and carefully neutered network shows that are not allowed to call a Republican lie a lie and a Republican fiasco a fiasco. The conservatives have created a separate information reality for themselves. You or I see failures upon failures: they see victories, media prosecution, liberal propaganda, and occasionally nay-saying from non-conservatives that they are trained to hold in contempt, dismiss, and ignore.

Jeff I September 17, 2008 at 12:33 am

In a few weeks, very few people will be looking at Palin as an individual; just, better or worse, as a member of the republican ticket. Posted by: Logan

I don’t think so because one of the many problems Palin has back at home in the 49th state will come to a head.

DFH no.6 September 17, 2008 at 1:02 pm

Jeff: “I don’t think so because one of the many problems Palin has back at home in the 49th state will come to a head.”

If by this you mean “Troopergate”, it’s not going to happen. The Republicans are well on their way to preventing this from being resolved prior to the election, if not entirely quashing it for good. It will remain “he said/she said” and have no more effect than it has already (i.e., insignificant, IMHO).

Wish it were otherwise, but it’s not.

This was it — nothing else re:Palin was going to “come to a head”.

Democrats — knife to a gunfight, as usual.

Homeostatic Truth September 17, 2008 at 9:35 pm

Berken says,”Joel, if everyone followed the same news sources you and most of the rest of the commenters here follow”

Can’t the same be said for both groups… that each have their own source of media brainwashing?

Joel September 18, 2008 at 11:20 am

No.

Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post: