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January 19, 2011


I agree with Brendan's analysis as far as it goes. But, I'm not betting my retirement savings on Intrade, because anyone can announce a run for President.

In the past, some became Presidential candidates because they were unreasonably optimistic about their chance of winning. When surrounded by adoring supporters, it's easy to overestimate one's popularity.

Some were so eager to be President that they ran knowing their chances were remote, e.g. Bob Dole. Some ran knowing they had no chance, because being a candidate gave them a public forum, e.g. Alan Keyes. Some, like Harold Stassen, just seemed to enjoy running for President.

In short, Palin has the sole control of the decision. Statistics alone are not sufficient to predict whether she will become an announced candidate. One also needs to guess as to her state of mind.

Palin's numbers are what they are, but Brendan's parenthetical is priceless. Brendan notes that the poll was conducted "immediately after the controversy over her ham-handed response to the shootings in Arizona." You know what else occurred just before the poll was conducted? Sarah Palin was vilified as having been responsible for the massacre. If I were looking for something that might have moved her numbers, I'd think that might be more relevant than her "ham-handed response." Brendan tries hard to be even-handed, but evidence of his political perspective is inescapable.

Maybe, but I think that effort at least partially failed. Most Americans didn't think the political tone was responsible for the shootings (32% yes, 57% no):

However, Americans didn't view her response to the shooting favorably (30% approve, 46% disapprove):

Those were the findings the parenthetical was intended to reflect. It could be fallout from the effort to blame her (which I condemned repeatedly). In any case, it's impossible to tell what exactly caused the change -- a lot has happened since the last CNN poll in October.

Incidentally, it was no coincidence that the dishonest attacks on Palin were so well coordinated. A group of liberal pundits communicate via the secretive "Cabalist" and make collective decisions about what to write. Amusingly, wikipedia writes:

[Cabalist], which had 173 members by late July, was made up mostly of former Journolist members. Its existence managed to stay secret for several weeks, until The Atlantic magazine correspondent Jeffrey Goldberg revealed its existence in a blog post on July 21. Goldberg reported that one recent discussion concerned whether or not members should ignore the articles on The Daily Caller website. "In other words, members of Journolist 2.0 were debating whether to collectively respond to a Daily Caller story alleging—inaccurately, in their minds—that members of Journolist 1.0 (the same people, of course) made collective decisions about what to write"

Maybe so, Brendan, but let's parse the numbers. The CBS poll question asked about political tone in general; Palin was not specifically mentioned. Accordingly, respondents' overall perceptions of her probably didn't greatly influence the results.

In the CNN poll reported on by the Daily News, on the other hand, the question was specifically about Palin. In that poll, 30% approved her response, whereas 46% disapproved. But this is at approximately the same time that her favorable/unfavorable rating was 38/56. How many of those who said they disapproved/approved of her response were actually simply registering their overall disapproval/approval of Palin? My instinct is most of them. If they like Palin, they generally approved of her response. If they don't, they didn't.

In any event, comparing the two polls and using that comparison to judge the extent to which the public was more influenced by the vilification of Palin (which you certainly did write about) or her defense against that vilification (or, as you refer to it, her "ham-handed response to the shootings") seems like a stretch.

There's no question that those two polls aren't ideal. Like I said, you could be right. However, no one polled on Palin between the shootings and her video, so it's hard to separate the two effects.

I appreciate the effort for even-handedness especially when dealing with Palin. The second her name is brought up left-leaning folks turn off the critical thinking and turn into knee-jerk critics. She could post "the sky is blue today" on her facebook page and some lefty pundit blogger would attack her for it.

In addition to the original vilification of Palin and her response, there was another event: the vilification of her response.

The response was criticized by many liberals on a preposterous argument regarding the phrase "blood libel." Even though that phrase accurately describes blaming an innocent person for mass murder, it also has a specific meaning related to anti-semitism. Palin's critics claimed that because of the specific meaning, Palin was wrong to use the phrase in any other way. Not only does this argument make no sense, some of those critics had also used the phrase in ways unrelated to anti-semitism.

As Brendan points out, it's hard to separate the effects of the original smear and Palin's defense. It would be even harder to separate out the impact of Palin's defense from its vilification.

BTW the day Palin's defense appeared on the web, the Lehrer news hour focused on a speech Obama had made. I don't think they showed any of Palin's speech. I don't know how other news outlets handled it. The point is, many people may not have seen Palin's defense. Their opinion of it may be entirely a reflection of pundits who told their audience that it was a bad speech.


Is part of the reason Dan Quayle never recovered from his image as a bumbling doofus because he never did anything (or enough) to raise his profile during the Clinton presidency, whereas then-Sen. Clinton did while Bush was in office?

Did it also hurt Quayle that the economy did well while Clinton was in office (fundamentals)?

I think the only reason Republicans like her is because Democrats hate her. It's kind of like rooting for Pittsburgh because Ben Roethlisberger manhandled your ex-girlfriend.

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