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Oct 14, 2008


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Beau D. Jackson

Shoring the base, boring pretty much everyone else: "Fewer than four in 10 of all voters surveyed overall have a favorable impression of [Palin], while roughly eight in 10 Republicans view her favorably."

I don't think that math works out so well for McCain.

Ed you should conduct the same survey with Joe Bidden, and I'd venture to say that more than 50% of all registered Democrats will think him to be an idiot, especially after all the false numbers he was throwing around during the Palin debate. You'll note you don't see a whole lot of "Gaffing Joe" out there on the stump, but you do see Palin preaching her heart out, you have to give the girl credit for doing a terrific job. Beau


It appears from the most recent Rasmussen survey that the favorability/unfavorability ratings of Biden and Palin are pretty close. The people who like Palin seem to like her more strongly, while the people who like Biden like him more mildly. The people who dislike Palin dislike her more intensely, while the people who dislike Biden dislike him with less fervor.

I suspect that Beau is correct in his suggestion that the Democratic base are much less enthusiastic about Biden than the GOP base are about Palin. Speaking only for myself -- a registered Democrat only because there's no point in being a registered Anarchist -- I think Biden is, among other things, an idiot and a bullshitter. But, at least the way things are going, it doesn't appear that Obama's VP choice is much of a factor in this election, and it doesn't appear that McCain's VP choice will help him at all beyond the GOP base. Which shouldn't be surprising, as VP choices really never matter very much.


But Eric, pointing to poll results about Biden's favorability doesn't advance the spin that Palin is a liability. The logic applied to Palin would then have to be applied to Biden and that would mean holding them to the same standard and that doesn't happen around here.

Beau D. Jackson

I think Biden is, among other things, an idiot and a bullshitter.

Me thinks the same! I listened to Palin today in PA., and quite frankly she was electrifying. You've have NOT given her credit, where credit is due, and she definately energizes the party. Beau


Rasmussen poll from yesterday:

"Fifty-six percent (56%) now have a favorable view of Biden, including 25% who say that view is Very Favorable, according to a new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey. Fifty-three percent (53%) view Palin favorably, but 35% say their opinion of her is Very Favorable.

Forty-seven percent (47%) have an unfavorable view of the first-term Alaska governor, compared to 41% who say that of Biden, a member of the Senate since 1973. Yet while just 21% have a Very Unfavorable opinion of Biden, 33% say that of Palin (see full demographic crosstabs)."

Also interesting from the poll:

"However, Palin still does slightly better than Biden when voters are asked to pick among all four candidates – Obama, McCain, Biden and Palin – for PRESIDENT...Unaffiliated voters gave Palin the edge over Biden by six points."

The spin that Palin is hurting the ticket is entirely false or at least highly inaccurate and is simply another way of trying to discredit her.

Ed Cone

The point is not "nobody likes Palin," it's that only the GOP base likes Palin. She's served the purpose of firing up the base, but she's not reaching out to the other voters the GOP needs.

The comparison to Biden is not relevant because, yes, nobody much cares about Biden, and that's fine by the Dems, who have their star at the top of the ticket. Obama appeals to the Democratic base, and is drawing other voters, too. Biden isn't expected to carry the load as Palin is -- he's just another warm-pitcher-of-pisser.


Her appeal outside the base is nearly the same as Biden's so it isn't fair to say only the GOP base likes Palin nor do the numbers bear that out. I also don't understand why you believe that it is Palin's role to reach across party lines, but not McCain's (i.e., why isn't McCain himself expected to carry the load across party lines like you say Obama is?). You assign that role to Palin without explanation.

Her weakness right now is women- but so is McCain's in general and it was before he selected her by double digits. Rather than this being a reflection on her perhaps it is a reflection on the McCain campaign. Hence, I don't understand why she is singled out.

That said, I still believe that at the end of the day she will attract more female voters of all persuasions than the polls show right now. Her numbers among women have been fluctuating enough for Obama to remain concerned. A small shift of Democratic and independent women to McCain could easily decide the election, and Palin caused a 20 point shift when she was announced. Most of it has gone back to Obama now, but so has the rest of McCain's bounce. With those kinds of swings, the support for either candidate or their running mates among the people who will decide this election is soft. If just one fourth of those women come back to McCain, Obama will lose. So I wouldn't dismiss the Palin effect and the female vote just yet.


FWIW (Sam, no doubt, will say "not much") the latest NY Times/CBS poll provides some evidence that Palin is a net liability for McCain while Biden is a net zero for Obama --

In response to the question "Has your opinion of John McCain changed over the past couple of weeks, or hasn’t it changed?", 21% said their opinion has "changed for the worse" and 7% said it has "changed for the better", with 72% saying it hasn't changed. Of those saying their opinion of McCain has changed for the worse, 22% cited Sarah Palin as the main reason -- the second most popular response just behind "attacks on opponent" at 23%.

For Obama, 17% said their opinion had "changed for the better" and 7% said it had "changed for the worse", with 76% saying it was unchanged. Among those saying their opinion of Obama had changed for the better, 3% cited Joe Biden as the main reason -- which seems surprisingly high to me, but there's no accounting for taste.

Because of the small number of responses, there is no breakdown of "main reasons" for those who reported that their opinion of McCain had changed for the better, or that their opinion of Obama had changed for the worse (only 7% of respondents in each case). But even assuming that 100% of those whose opinions of Obama had grown less favorable attributed that to Biden, and 100% of those whose opinions of McCain had grown more favorable attributed it to Palin, this survey would indicate that Palin has cost McCain support while Biden has made no significant difference one way or the other for Obama. But perhaps Sam defines "liability" differently.

Go ahead, Sam, quibble with the survey all you want. But, given your repeated demands that other people put up evidence in support of their assertions, it is notable that you haven't put up any in support of yours (i.e. that Palin is not a liability and that "she will attract more female voters of all persuasions than the polls show right now").

Beau D. Jackson

The point is not "nobody likes Palin," it's that only the GOP base likes Palin. She's served the purpose of firing up the base, but she's not reaching out to the other voters the GOP needs.

Ed, I don't give a great deal of credability to polls, the left loons have a goon squad that jumps in on every poll imaginable in an effort to slant the results favorable to Obama, much like the Ron Paul following. I think a LOT of people out in this country really like Sara Palin and she's doing a fine job supporting McCain, much much better than "hoof & mouth" Joe Bidden is doing for Obama. Bidden is such a liability to the ticket I was certain Obama would have dumped him by now and brought back Hillary, but I guess the love between Obama and Hillary really runs deep! lo Beau



The poll you cite is at odds with every other poll out right now. That poll has Obama up by 14 points. None of the other polls, including the most reliable ones- Gallup, Rasmussen and Zogby show an Obama lead anywhere close to that. This is the part where in the actual courtroom we have the so called "battle of the experts". I have three that essentially agree, and you have one that is way off.

Now let's analyze the flaw in your analysis. The main flaw is that there is no time frame. In order for Palin to have been a "net liability" for McCain we have to first know what his numbers were BEFORE he selected her. If he gained 10 points after he selected her, but then gave 5 back to Obama in the past few weeks because some people decided they didn't really like her, she has still given him a net gain of 5 points. Therefore she is NOT a liability, but still an asset. In fact, according to the poll you cite, McCain's favorability numbers (NOT the same as support numbers) have been consistently higher after Palin than before her.

His support numbers (according to your poll) were 42 right before he announced her, peaked at 45 (last week! After Katie, after SNL, after the Ayers speech) and are now at 39. How you attribute this decline over last week to Palin, isn't explained.

Further, Palin's favorability according to your poll was 40 the week of 9/12. Went down to 32 the week of 9/27, then went back up to 40 last week (when McCain had his highest numbers in the poll) and then back to 32. See any patterns here? Was she not a liability at first, then a liability, then not a liability again, and then a liability? I seem to recall mentioning something about poll fluctations in my response to Ed as a reason not to use today as a reliable indicator... but that was just my opinion....

The 22% claim you cite is also problematic. The poll itself finds that 79% of the people asked said their opinion of McCain had not changed at all or was favorable. So the 22% you cite only applies to the remaining 21%. It's 22% of 21% of the people surveyed. It does not prove that she is a liability because the poll doesn't tell us how many of the 79% believe Palin is an asset or improved their view of McCain.

Now to the smart comments at the end of your post. For the record, I have decided henceforth to try and avoid being petty and throwing mud regardless of whether I find it amusing at times. It always ends the same way because not enough people get the joke. But I am going to do my best to avoid those instances for my own reasons. However, the bit of baiting in your last comments seems to be an assault on legitimate methods of argumentation and their proper application. The hook is that I am somehow applying a different standard to the argument of others than I do myself. Coming from a law professor who should know better, I find that insulting and either deliberately misleading or shockingly incompetent, so if you detect a tinge of sarcasm below, you will know why.

The other day when discussing the "abuse of power" thread which is a legal standard, I did demand facts because the law requires facts to support each element of an allegation. In order to prove an abuse of power as defined by law we must have the definition and evidence to support every element within that definition. A mere opinion won't suffice. A fact can be based on an opinion such as "in your opinion officer, was the defendant impaired?" but you must still prove the fact (e.g., what is the definition of impaired and what evidence has the officer provided to fulfill that element? He just "looked drunk" won't do because it won't satisfy the definition, which in this example would have to be proven beyond a reasonable doubt).

This discussion by contrast is not a legal one at all. Rather, it involves the interpretation of numbers and arguments based on comparing those numbers. If Biden and Palin are both at 50%, that is a fact (assuming the accuracy of the poll). An argument based on that fact might be "why are they being treated differently?". That is something that calls for an opinion which is going to be subjective. This is what political scientists do. So I put on my poli-sci hat and take off the lawyer hat because the methods and standards are different.

Putting sarcasm aside, you ask a silly question. Why don't I have facts to prove that Palin isn't a liability? Silly because first the question itself requires me to prove a negative. Second, I don't believe anyone has conducted a poll on that very question. Third, it calls for an analysis, not a conclusion. I can't prove in fact that she isn't a liability, but I can offer reasons why I don't believe she is. One of the main reasons is the absence of any such evidence, another might be based on history, another might be based on the fluidity of polls, another might be based on the crowds that flock to see her, etc.

You then ask me to prove my assertion that "she will attract more female voters..." Of course, I didn't say that was a fact. It is clearly an opinion which is why it is prefaced with "I believe". Why do I believe this? I told Ed why in the post. The vote is soft. That is an opinion, but it is based on the observation that there has been a wild swing back and forth among women since Palin was announced. That is taking known variables, analyzing them and then offering an opinion. This is perfectly legitimate and acceptable in a discussion. It is far different than the rigid standards for proving a legal case which was the discussion of the other thread.

Don't conflate the two methods. They aren't the same and because of that there are no contradictions by me. And please don't miseducate people in order to draw support for your position by telling them that opinions are acceptable substitutes for factual requirements in a court of law. You have a fine and impressive legal resume, don't cheapen it this way. People may think I'm off my rocker with regard to my opinions on a host of political subjects, but when it comes to legal analysis I always play it straight and apply the proper standards and rules. You know as well as I that an acceptable legal argument is entirely different from a political one. The discussion the other day was a legal analysis, this one is not.


Shorter Spag: "Quibble, deflect, stomp feet, slam door."

James Protzman

Whatever else he may be, Obama is not very "concerned" about the Palin creature. On the day her name was put into nomination, the overwhelming response by the Obama campaign was: "what a gift!"

He is not worried about her attracting voters he would never have won over.

If she hadn't already divided the Republic party into two warring camps, he might have been concerned about her ability to drive turn out, but any such concern diminishes every time she opens her mouth.

Obama is steady, he is executing his game plan, he is prepared, he is serious, and he is focused on digging America out from under the crush of the most disastrous presidency in history. That is his concern. Not Sarah Palin.


A disappointing response from a law professor. What is America teaching our kids?


James, I can see the setup that McCain lost because of Sarah Palin coming from a mile away. It's one of those things that if you repeat it enough, maybe people will believe it. It's killing two birds with one stone. But it won't be even close to being true and if you think about it, it will undermine a claim to an Obama mandate. But that's if you think about it.

Ed Cone

I haven't seen anyone challenge the thesis of the post: Palin is firing up the base, but not winning over other voters.

The comparison to Biden falls apart because Biden is an old-school VP candidate to whom nobody is expected to pay much attention, while Palin is touted as a game-changer for McCain.

And in fact she has changed the game for him, by shoring up the base. The question remains: would he be doing better with other groups without her?


Just my opinion, but I see the Palin pick as out of touch. McCain misunderestimated why voters liked Hillary Clinton and cynically thought that a running mate with the same reproductive organs would garner their support.

McCain should have picked Romney. McCain admitted that the economy was not his strong suit and a Romeny pick would have demonstrated that McCain was interested in good governance instead of calculated pandering. And, although hindsight is 20/20, I think we would be seeing a completely different response to "Who is better able to handle the economy," if it had been Romney.

Poor judgment.


Has anyone read the story today about Palin meeting with some of Hillary's fundraisers in New York yesterday? They gave the campaign some cash. I doubt they are Republicans.

I'm still not sure what the argument against Palin is. Perhaps someone can articulate it.

Ed Cone

"I'm still not sure what the argument against Palin is."


George Will: "a person of negligible experience."

K. Parker: "she doesn’t know enough about economics and foreign policy to make Americans comfortable with a President Palin should conditions warrant her promotion."

Brooks: "no American politician plays the class-warfare card as constantly as Palin...Once conservatives admired Churchill and Lincoln above all — men from wildly different backgrounds who prepared for leadership through constant reading, historical understanding and sophisticated thinking. Now those attributes bow down before the common touch."

And those are Republican columnists...

I find her underqualified, embarrassing in interviews, and extreme on social issues.

Your standard MO is to now argue with those arguments. Have at it, I won't be playing. Your question was about the rap against her, and it's been answered.


As a Republican I was not ever thrilled with the choice. I feel only slightly better now than when she was announced. I dont feel she is the most qualified for the job. Not a vote changer or a stay homer for me though.

Though I consider Biden to be more qualified I doubt he would be considered by most to be the Dems best #2 either.

The reaction of the far lefties has been predictably ugly and personal though. I tire of the extreme ends of our political spectrum having so much attention given to their creepy voices. Including unfortunately, some here.

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