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Palin: Everywoman or Conservative Darling?

Following up on today's back-and-forth about whether Sarah Palin represents the "democratic ideal" of the everywoman (see Ross Douthat here; John Sides here), we've assembled some data from last year's campaign.

Favorability ratings taken in Washington Post-ABC News pre-election polls found some measure of the education divide Douthat suggests in the New York Times (near the end of the campaign, 57 percent of whites without a college degree held a favorable view of Palin, it was 46 percent among those with at least a four-year degree), but that gap is more muted in the newer Pew data, and in assessing other aspects of the nation's best known hockey mom's leadership abilities, Post-ABC polling and network exit polls show that ideology is a greater driver of opinion than education or income.

Exit pollsters probed voters on whether Palin was qualified to handle the presidency, a measure that goes a bit deeper than the like/dislike dynamic of favorability ratings. At first glance, voters' education does seem to make a difference in views of Palin's ability to handle the presidency: 39 percent of whites with college degrees said she was ready to take the reins, compared with 50 percent of those without that much formal education. (This analysis is limited to white voters, to isolate the effect of other characteristics.)

But that disparity largely vanishes when ideology is taken into account. Among conservative whites, 73 percent of those with and without college degrees considered the soon-to-be-ex-governor able to handle the presidency. Among liberal or moderate whites, 22 percent of college grads considered her ready compared with a third of those without degrees.

Similarly, ideology seems to trump household income as well: when split by ideology, there are only marginal differences among white voters based on annual income.

These exit poll data seemed to confirm data from a late-October Washington Post-ABC News poll that also found perceptions of Palin's ability to understand voters' problems more sharply divided along ideological lines than by education or income. In that poll, 44 percent of non-college whites who called themselves liberal or moderate said Palin understood the problems of people like them, far fewer than the 83 percent of those seeing themselves as conservative who said so. There was a much slimmer gap more broadly between white non-college and college voters about whether Palin could relate (59 to 53 percent).

But the education split did appear to carry some weight on favorability. Among white conservatives, positive views among those with and without college degrees converged by late October, with about eight in 10 in both groups holding a favorable opinion. But the divide held among liberal and moderate whites. As Election Day approached, just 28 percent of white liberals and moderates with a college degree held a favorable view of Palin. Among those with less formal education, 44 percent had a positive take.

By Jennifer Agiesta  |  July 6, 2009; 3:54 PM ET
Categories:  Exit polls , Polls , Sarah Palin  
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Though this analysis argues that ideology largely explains differences based on education, but it seems that for moderates and liberals education does matter, whereas for conservatives it does not.

"Among liberal or moderate whites, 22 percent of college grads considered her ready compared with a third of those without degrees."

"As Election Day approached, just 28 percent of white liberals and moderates with a college degree held a favorable view of Palin. Among those with less formal education, 44 percent had a positive take."

Ideology seems to matter most, but education, for moderate and liberal voters, seems to at least produce some differences.

Posted by: sfcpoll | July 7, 2009 9:47 AM | Report abuse

For Sarah Palin so loves Alaska that she's sacrificing her valuable TITLE.


Posted by: MikeLicht | July 7, 2009 10:38 AM | Report abuse

you know, if al franken can become a u.s.senator, probably the best joke he had written for him, by the executive producers, acorn, without any suspicion or media crackdown, then, our dear sarah palin should be able to resign as governor without all this media scrutiny & malice. mind you, no comparison here. he, the cowardly lion on the wizard of oz, fiction & she, Debra, the female warrior in the Bible, non-fiction. she possess a character full of integrity, confident & genuine love for her family, her state of alaska & this country & THEY hate this. it shines a light on THEIR own weakness & humans, by nature, donot want to appear weak, especially majority of men. sorry guys! she breathes & exhales the strength, energy, vitality & yes, even the change that the masses were chanting & shouting about, that never happened. not just for the republican party, but for this country! yes, the v.p. bid brought her to the fore front & into the lion’s den for just a time as this. she's a fighter with compassion. she is sarah palin, not ronald reagan & he was great for his time. 2010 is going to be....very interesting...i believe schultz said this. come on, you know. hogan hereos?

Posted by: denisenord | July 7, 2009 8:21 PM | Report abuse

I think Sarah Palin,and The Whole Politics of Personality that invented her, is endlessly fascinating, and, dare I say this, entertaining, in the way that a car crash in slow motion is fascinating.

Switching channels all during the Fourth of July Doldrums -- between Sarah's Shenanigans and MJ's Spiritual Circus--was an exhausting but very entertaining experience.

Isn't that what reality is, another chance to entertain us? Or have I got reality mixed up with the coverage of it. I may not be alone. Which is which?

That Silly Sarah is her own worst enemy is not only obvious but strangely beside the point.

What's intriguing is that a a border-line personality like Palin can and does have political credence in a society hijacked by culture, and bored to tears by reality.

Sarah Palin is oh-so-obviously and predictably Sarah Palin, and she is about as mysterious to us as a block toilet is to a plumber.

She knows that.

So she's jazzed herself up a bit and has made a career pushing all our buttons and spoon-feeding us the nausea inducing pablum that makes us sick but that she knows we can't live without.

What's really fascinating is the body politic's response to her.

That is truly something to behold.

It's like after Toto draws back the curtain on the Big Bad Wizard, Dorthy steps in to start pulling the levers on the fantasy apparatus.If you want something done right, do it yourself!

I am proabaly just as much to blame as anybody. I actually find myself not wanting this macabe roller coaster ride to end.

Hell, I want to go round again!

After all it's just the same Old Sad Circus illuminated by a Paper Moon and I already bought an E ticket!

No need to Send in the Clowns.
They're way past the lobby.

Oh well. On second thought, I'd Better Buckle Up. Or as Bette Davis would say, "It's going to be a bumpy ride."

Don't look now but Sarah's in the driver's seat and though we're gonna crash, we're know we're gonna be on TV so that makes it all OK.

Richie Begin
Santa Cruz, CA

Posted by: richie3 | July 9, 2009 2:54 PM | Report abuse

Palin is the epitomy of morality in a politician and the fact that she is a bright, articulate, beautiful person inside and out is just unfathomable to democrats and the women libbers who only promote equality in democratic women. Sarah has star quality and is a star in every sense of the word. She would kick Obama's butt in a debate. She has more experience in running a government in her little finger than Obama has in his entire body, for Pete's sake the man is a community organizer. What a joke!

Posted by: chloe_658 | July 9, 2009 11:00 PM | Report abuse

chloe, the biggest joke is you!

Posted by: koolkat_1960 | July 10, 2009 10:22 PM | Report abuse

I don't think Palin is the least bit captivating and I wish we would stop hearing about her. I think she personifies everything wrong and screwball about the right; she's not only anti-intellectual but wears her ignorance as proud evidence of her authenticity. Her dog-whistle racism is ham-handed enough that it falls into the frequency range of ordinary hearing and we all know who she means to leave out when she refers to "real Americans." This stupid vicious woman lowers our political conversation to the gutter and I don't think this act is the least bit cute.

Wonder if she'll ever discover her voice's lower register? That whiny little girl sound is immensely irritating, along with that unmistakable tone of someone repeating words and phrases without understanding. "Pry-vit secter" and all that. Ugh. Shut up, Sarah, go back to Alaska and campaign for the abstinence-only BS that worked so well with Bristol an' Levi

Posted by: chrisfox8 | July 12, 2009 9:39 PM | Report abuse

"Palin is the epitomy of morality in a politician and the fact that she is a bright, articulate, beautiful person..."


I call troll

Posted by: chrisfox8 | July 12, 2009 9:40 PM | Report abuse

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