Patterico's Pontifications


Q-Poll: Is Sarah Palin unelectable?

Filed under: General — Karl @ 7:34 pm

[Posted by Karl]

If you took the latest Quinnipiac University poll at face value, you might think so:

However, there is ample reason to not take this poll at face value.

As political scientist John Sides has noted (with little effect on the establishment media, much to his chagrin) about 90% of the public is partisan and about 80-90% of those voters vote for their party’s candidate. Thus, presidential elections tend to turn on the difference in turnout between Republicans and Democrats and the distribution of the so-called Independent vote. On the latter factor, it is important to note that pollsters often treat Independents synonymously with swing voters, when only 7-10% of Independents are truly indepenedent. The rest are weak partisans who overwhelmingly vote their partisan sympathies. Incidentally, the folks at Quinnipiac know this and have been known to separate leaners out from true Indies — but it does not appear that they did so in this poll.

Accordingly, when turning back to the Q-Poll, it’s a good bet that some or most of the 24% of Republicans who told Quinnipiac they would never vote for Palin are fooling themselves. Conversely, 50% of Democrats may say they would consider voting for Mitt Romney, but the real answer is probably closer to the 91% who say they would never vote for Palin.

Palin also scores badly with so-called Indies in the Q-Poll: 58% say they would never vote for her. However, we don’t know how many of the true independents are in that group, as opposed to Democrat leaners. Indeed, with Democratic Party ID hitting a 22-year low at the same time as a high for Independent ID, it is a fair bet that the number of Democrat leaners has been on the rise.

Nevertheless, the Q-Poll does hold some basic lessons about a prospective Palin candidacy. Because partisan turnout is a key factor to winning, Sarah’s supporters often claim that she energizes the GOP base in a way that her potential rivals do not. The Q-Poll (and most polls about hypothetical 2012 fields) suggest Palinistas are overstating their case. The number of voters — both in general and among Republicans — who say they are enthusiastic about voting for Palin are not significantly higher than those for Romney or Mike Huckabee. Moreover, some GOPers who say they would never vote for Palin may be fooling themselves, but that 24% suggests a lack of enthusiasm for Palin as a standard-bearer (dismiss such folks as RINOs, but they also affect turnout).

Similarly, while Palin’s problems with Indies may be overstated, her showing with them remains at least a caution flag. Based on the Q-Poll, we simply don’t know to what extent Palin has turned off true Independents, which is crucial in her case because she (unlike all of her potential rivals) is near-universally known. If she has lost that 7-10% of the electorate, it would take a much bigger shift in the overall political environment to win them over, relative to other possible GOP nominees. Furthermore, her poor score with so-called Independents — even if we acknowledge that many are Democrat leaners — may also speak to enthusiasm and turnout. Palin certainly excites a segment of the GOP base, but she may also boost Democratic enthusiasm.

Reading the Q-Poll against the fairly strong trends in presidential elections discussed here, I would hypothesize that Palin’s actual profile probably resembles that of another candidate tested in the poll: Newt Gingrich. He is well-known. Roughly 12% of Republicans say they will not vote for him. He scores poorly with Independents and worse with Democrats. If this hypothesis is correct, we would expect the percentage of voters who would never vote for Palin to be somewhere in the high-30s to low-40s (Republicans would be more enthused about Palin than Gingrich). Is such a candidate electable? You betcha — but if you imagine trying to elect Newt, you can imagine that it might not be easy.


31 Responses to “Q-Poll: Is Sarah Palin unelectable?”

  1. I am skeptical that anyone on our side is electable, but given that belief, I’m good with letting Palin take her shot if she wants to. She is not conservative on every issue but she seems about as solid (in terms of not backing down) as anyone who might run.

    I still really wish we could get Christie to run. He’s such a great communicator that I think he could explain to the country why we need to take drastic steps to fix the budget crisis.

    Patterico (c218bd)

  2. Hey, I beat happyfeet on a Palin thread!

    Patterico (c218bd)

  3. i think america really is ready for “none of the above.” but we have to give them more than just that.

    Don’t forget… after carter came reagan. in fact maybe we needed carter to get to reagan… scary thought.

    Aaron Worthing (73a7ea)

  4. Sorry unless Palin acts like a spiteful vindictive woman I won’t vote for her.

    /Sarcasm off

    DohBiden (15aa57)

  5. My sarcasm was poorly understood the other day, but what is it, that makes us think that Obama is unbeatable, the economy, the fact that every ally
    of ours is falling to the Islamists, his insane
    economic policy.

    narciso lopez (79ddc3)

  6. I would LOVE to see an Obama-Palin debate.

    aunursa (a2a019)

  7. Yeah but the polls say differently.

    She can’t win no matter how much independents are attracted to her policies.

    /sarc off

    DohBiden (15aa57)

  8. Oh puhleez, the polls are wacked!! Who do you think won Nov 2010? It was historic and they pretend it didn’t happen. THEY WISH SHE CAN’T BE ELECTED!!! Oh she will be and her new house will be fumigated before she gets there and her bear rug will be placed in the oval office :) We have had enough, the smarty pants have ruined the country and their time is OVER!! Get used to President Palin!! I likey, we are coming after you and we will save your ass and the country whether you like it or not! Buck up boys, you can help or stay out of the way. muah!

    jann (475ffe)

  9. If history is any judge of things, one thing is certain we won’t know with absolute certainty until history tells us so.

    Remember, before Reagan began his Presidential campaign he ‘polled 30% lower than Carter unelectable’.

    Remember, Obama is Carter on hyper-steroids.

    Also remember, a year prior to the election America’s Tough Talking Mayor Guiliani polled highest against the unbeatable Hillary; neither won their primaries.

    In the meantim, it is amusing watching the hamsters spin their wheels going nowhere

    Susan (77f3e8)

  10. I still really wish we could get Christie to run.

    Patterico, did you see this tidbit from Jennifer Rubin’s blog today? Apparently some GOP money-men are working to get Christie to change his mind.

    JVW (fb14f8)

  11. arbperpomromhojh

    any republican but palin except ron paul or mitt romney or mike huckabee or john huntsman.

    if she declared she`d rightly be in the top 2 or 3. she has passion, she can create it, she can raise money, she would surround herself with a good team i think.

    deepelemblue (225630)

  12. Damn…there have got to be better choices than Romney and Huckabee. Romney is just John Kerry’s mirror image, both have the personality of a rock and a swift boatload of baggage.

    And the people that would never vote for Palin will also never vote for Huckabee…once they remember he is a religious, social-conservative populist.

    I still don’t think Palin can win. I do think she’ll be a terrific fund-raiser for a Republican candidate.

    Xmas (3065d2)

  13. Sarah palin is much better than that dumb guy we have as president at least she promised drilling for our own oil here; and that would bring more jobs by itself.
    I think she is even tougher on foreign policy’s as she would never apologize for this great nation.

    roy (77ebcf)

  14. the problem with all this talk over Sarah palin is everyone seems to be buying the lie’s from the mainstream left wing media outlet’s.
    get a life and think for yourself and your pocket book.

    roy (77ebcf)

  15. I think at this point Palin is a tough long-shot, but a Palin/Ryan or Palin/Christie ticket could win, if you sold it as “two-for-the-price-of-one” the way the Clintons did.

    Palin the charismatic straight-shooting back-to-basics type is attractive; Palin the superficial thinker is unattractive and scares a lot of people, even ones like me who don’t hate her and actually kinda like her. But a deep thinker/wonk like Ryan or a first-rate mind like Christie clearly possesses might balance things out.

    I think if Palin declares, in order to have a real chance at winning she’ll have to have her entire Cabinet of Superfriends already in place and prepared to hit the road with her, to re-assure the wavering and/or scared voters that she’ll be surrounded with first-rate intellect and experience.

    d. in c. (ac417f)

  16. Palin/Christie ticket . . .

    Don’t think that’s too likely.

    It’s an amazing world.

    Patterico (c218bd)

  17. “Don’t think that’s too likely.”

    OK, but why? Do you think Christie is biding his time til ’16, and won’t dilute his brand through association with someone as risky as Palin?

    Or is there another reason?

    d. in c. (ac417f)

  18. Shallow like appointing Sohail Mohammed to the superior court, like incorporating cap n trade,
    into your state’s budgeting, through the RGGI,dismissing the arguments of GZ Mosque opponents,

    narciso lopez (79ddc3)

  19. Romney/Palin wins. All aboard!

    ropelight (ca7c9a)

  20. Another good post, typical of Karl.

    gary gulrud (790d43)

  21. There was no inkling, before it happened, that either Reagan or Thatcher were going to end up as President and Prime Minister. They swam against the current of conventional wisdom and prevailing MSM memes to become historical figures.

    Viator (c5da79)

  22. Sarah’s supporters often claim that she energizes the GOP base in a way that her potential rivals do not.

    the more important Palin effect is the spectacular energizing effect she will have on Obama’s base I think

    happyfeet (3c92a1)

  23. I looked-up NOTA in the dictionary, and found a picture of Biden with the notation:
    Oh, you mean this guy?

    AD-RtR/OS! (bb0766)

  24. I’m still predicting and hoping for Palin/Jindal, as I have been since the end of 2008. And I still think Clinton is going to mount a primary challenge, and having beaten Obama will have to name a black running mate. I used to think that would be Harold Ford; that’s no longer an option, and most other black politicians I can think of are too left-wing for her, so I don’t know what she’ll do. Maybe Cory Booker?

    Milhouse (ea66e3)

  25. Possible dream team:

    President: Sarah Palin
    Vice President: Bobby Jindal
    State: John Bolton
    Defense: Alan West
    Treasury: Mitch Daniels
    Attorney General: Michael McConnell
    Labor/Education: Chris Christie
    Homeland Security: Bruce Schneier

    Milhouse (ea66e3)

  26. Oh, I forgot

    Press Secretary: Andrew Breitbart

    Milhouse (ea66e3)

  27. Jindal’s not qualified for VP, although he was born here his parents weren’t US citizens. He’s not a natural born citizen. It’s Constitutional, case closed.

    ropelight (3ac26a)

  28. Bulldust. There’s no legal basis for such an interpretation. The framers of the constitution relied on Blackstone, not on Grotius. And Jindal is at least as qualified as was Chester A Arthur.

    Milhouse (ea66e3)

  29. What does it really matter what I think? What does George Soros think?

    elissa (f77e24)

  30. Milhouse, there’s no rational basis for any other conclusion. The framers of the Constitution were clear, they specified a natural born citizen.

    Only someone born within the jurisdiction of the USA of parents, who at the time of the birth, were themselves both US citizens is eligible for either the presidency or the vice presidency.

    Chester Arthor knew he didn’t qualify, that’s why he burned his personal records before his death, to hide the evidence.

    ropelight (3ac26a)

  31. Yes, Ropelight, the framers specified a natural born citizen. That means one who was born in the USA, or overseas to a USA ambassador. Wherever you’re getting this stuff about the parents’ citizenship, it isn’t from the constitution, or from anything the framers wrote or are likely to have read.

    The framers are known to have relied heavily on Blackstone; it’s possible that some of them also read Grotius, but certainly not all of them had, and there’s no evidence that he had any influence on their thoughts. So any argument based on Grotius is flawed, especially when he contradicts Blackstone.

    Chester Arthur obfuscated his own year of birth, but made no attempt to hide the fact that his father didn’t become a USA citizen until Chester was a teenager. Nor did his enemies ever attack him on the basis of his parents’ citizenship; which, if your position were correct, would be strange, since they wouldn’t even have had to make anything up. Instead, their allegations were about his own place of birth, which they first tried to place in Ireland, and then in Canada.

    Milhouse (ea66e3)

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