Home > General > Polling Palin: An Unknown Known (Updated)

Polling Palin: An Unknown Known (Updated)

Until the field settles, (Palin, Perry, Giuliani, Christie) presumably by the end of the month, we wanted to go back to some of our previous pieces that many new readers may have missed. With 20 candidates polled, and with many not running, running, maybe running, the polls are pretty much meaningless at this stage. Needless to say, at this point we think everything that could be said has been until a few more candidates declare, or do not declare. The post below was the first to introduce Sarah Pain as “an unknown known” in analysis to dismiss the “Palin can’t win” mantra. Over the past 6 months, I think much of this has become true.

(Originally posted Feb 8, 2011, updated July 29, 2011) – The most difficult polls to read into this early are those associated with Sarah Palin. While supporters will claim bias in polls, non-supporters will be overly-excited about the supposed dislike of Sarah Palin.

The key thing to remember about polling is information changes minds quickly. In reality, of all potential candidates for 2012, Palin has the greatest opportunity to greatly improve her standings, especially given that expectations for her have been set so low by the media, by leftists, and by establishment Republican types.

Sarah Palin is what I like to call “An Unknown Known.” While everyone knows who she is, opinions of her are mostly derived from media accounts of her, rather than by her own actions and words. If you poll 1,000 people about Sarah Palin, you have a built in percentage who follow her closely and like her, you have a percentage who may or may not follow her closely and loathe her, and then you have the 80/20 rule, where the vast majority of people polled will be those who pay attention to politics 2 weeks a year and all other information comes from soundbites and brief media reports, not by a regular interest in politics (non political junkies).

The 80/20 rule: Most people polled about politics are not politically active or interested. When their information is derived from the media and soundbites, their opinion is skewed by the media. Most media reports about Palin reflect a common theme that she is “divisive” and “controversial” and “fringe” and “unelectable.” Therefore, the end result is that is what people know about Sarah Palin, and it negatively effects polling outcomes. This is not to say that the polls are inaccurate when they show Palin with low favor-ability and election poll numbers. Indeed, they are accurate because it takes a snapshot of the public’s perception at that time (even if that perception is crafted by the media). But that is what creates the opening for people to change their minds about her later.

While I will discuss polling data on Sarah Palin on this site, it should be noted that she will likely have the biggest upside in long-term polling data, should she run for President in 2012. Where she currently sits poll-wise should be considered the bottom. People who like her or support her now (with all the negative media reports out there) are unlikely to be deterred. The question is, how moved people are when (and if) they see Palin run and actually see her.

Data Points:

Post 2008 Convention Speech: After Sarah Palin gave her VP acceptance speech, a time when she would be seen by the greatest number of people at the same time, her favorables were quite impressive. Unfiltered, she came off as competent, a great speaker, and confident. Polling reflected this.

Palin Poll Numbers Post 2008 Convention Speech:

Newsweek: +30 (58-28) Favorable following her convention speech.

NBC News: +20 (47-27)

CNN/Opinion RSR: +30 (57-27)

USA Today/Gallup: +25 (53-28)

This was after Palin had been around for several weeks, and after she gave a “controversial” speech knocking Obama’s columns, but before the media unleashed on her. All of the polls bumped upwards from the weeks prior.

An interesting comparison is to then-nominee Obama. A week after his 2008 convention speech, his favorables were as follows:

Newsweek +20 (57-37)

NBC News/WSJ +21 (53-32)

CNN/Opinion Research +26 (60-34)

USA Today/Gallup +27 (62-35)

Obama Post Convention Speech Favorables +23.5%

Palin Post Convention Speech Favorables: +26.25%

After each respective speech, both Palin and Obama shared very high positives, and Palin was actually seen even more favorably than Obama.

Needless to say, it’s amazing to see what a friendly press can do for you and what a hostile press can do to destroy you, as each candidate was the recipient of one or the other (I’ll let you guess which way that went).

In the few weeks between the conventions and the VP Debate between Palin and Joe Biden, Sarah Palin was heavily attacked by the media, and was constantly being questioned about her qualifications. Thus, when the debate actually happened, people were surprised she wasn’t an idiot. A CNN Poll after the VP Debate found that 84% of people thought Sarah Palin did better than they expected. (And who were expectations set by?)

Palin’s big advantage is that campaigns are when people start paying attention. Palin’s favorables did not begin to drop drastically until after she was out of the public eye and the media targeted went after her. The Question is, and what we will be looking for, is how much of a bounce she gets when she begins running TV ads (test ads from her PAC were received positively) and is seen unfiltered through Primary debates. My money is that you will definitely see a big bounce and will close in on Obama greatly.

Takeaway: Polling is most accurate when the subject/person has had major, unfiltered visibility by the public. While Sarah Palin has been everywhere over the past two years, and in just about every major story, her persona has been defined by the media. Polling will remain volatile until Sarah Palin begins her expected run for the White House. At which point, her poll numbers will likely rise as the 70% of the population (non-political independents, non-political junkies, and “moderates”) see her in a more favorable light and she is able to present herself to a broader audience.

Categories: General
  1. blackbird2012
    February 10, 2011 at 12:00 pm

    Excellent post.

  2. JJ from SarahSota
    February 10, 2011 at 12:25 pm

    Excellent analysis. Looking forward to her 2012 campaign smack-downs of the competition. Not only does she live rent-free in the Dems and BLM’s collective heads (but I repeat myself!), the footsteps they hear are getting louder.

  3. serfer62
    July 29, 2011 at 9:59 pm

    Christies trip to the hospital cancelled him out.
    Gov Palins letter to the House was very effective giving her more creds.

  1. February 10, 2011 at 2:19 am
  2. February 10, 2011 at 11:10 am
  3. February 10, 2011 at 1:34 pm
  4. February 11, 2011 at 5:48 pm
  5. February 11, 2011 at 6:03 pm
  6. February 14, 2011 at 10:49 pm
  7. March 17, 2011 at 9:40 pm
  8. April 12, 2011 at 6:55 pm
  9. May 22, 2011 at 6:28 pm
  10. June 22, 2011 at 5:19 pm
  11. June 25, 2011 at 10:37 am

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