Many of my fellow bloggers have done an excellent job dissecting Sarah Palin's problems, her record and views, which make Mike Huckabee look like a commie. What I'm fascinated by, whether or not Palin will alter the landscape, is she connecting with voters, is she the "game changer". Don't take the above as anything to do with political preference, it's more a curiousity about dynamics. Rasmussen has done some polling on Palin, and the numbers suggest she well could make a difference:
Palin Power: Fresh Face Now More Popular Than Obama, McCain
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 (full demographic crosstabs are available for Premium Members). Before her acceptance speech, Palin was viewed favorably by 52%. A week ago, 67% had never heard of her.
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.
What I find striking, isn't so much that she outscores everyone on favorability(early days), but that 59% of independents have a good opinion of her. That fact seems to be translating to the Republican ticket as a whole:
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.
Fifty-one percent (51%) of all voters now believe that McCain made the right choice when he picked Palin to be his running mate while 32% disagree.
These numbers represent a sizeable uptick for McCain, particularly the 11% rise with independents. All this data seems to contradict the Democratic talking point, that Palin doesn't appeal outside of the right wing base. Early, early days, but far from the trainwreck people are suggesting.
One other noteworthy item. The intrade market odds have moved considerably. In the last couple of months, Obama has consistently hovered around 60%, McCain generally around 39% at a maximum. These numbers have been surprising constant throughout the summer, despite the ebb and flow of the polls. In the past few days, McCain has narrowed the gap, today hitting another high water mark, up to 42%, Obama at his lowest since Clinton conceded. Still a healthy lead, but something might be afoot.
The Palin factor, in a purely detached political observer sense, is clearly something to watch moving forward. Apparently, the Dems have finally emerged from their dismissive posture, the Obama team set to unleash several high profile "women" to undercut any chance of momentum. That would be wise in my view, and it's also an acknowledgement of a potential problem.