Palin’s Growing Pains

Despite the near endless parade of conservative faces opposing Obama these days, it seems that one face has overshadowed all of them, largely on her own appeal: Sarah Palin.

Palin’s appeal is undeniable: a true outsider who connects with average Americans in innumerable ways. And yet it would seem that her assets (working mom, small town politician, and someone from outside of the beltway) are what’s dragging her down these days. Some conservatives are pointing to Sarah’s current “numbers.” From Virginia Virtucon:

Palin 51%

Obama 49%

And before you go citing some Wall St. Journal / NBC poll or Gallup poll showing The Teleprompted One’s approval ratings in the mid-50s, be sure to check out how those pollsters did in 2008 in our sidebar.  For those too lazy to look:

1. Rasmussen (11/1-3)

16. NBC/WSJ (11/1-2)

20. Gallup (10/31-11/2)

However, its extremely important to point out that this comparison is somewhat apples to oranges, given that Rasmussen is polling Palin’s FAVORABILITY and Obama’s APPROVAL rating. And, as Quinnipiac shows us, its certainly possible for people to like a politician and not their policies….as it currently the case with Obama:

•    46 percent like Obama as a person and like most of his policies;
•    28 percent like him as a person, but don’t like most of his policies;
•    1 percent like his policies, but don’t like him as a person;
•    20 percent don’t like him or his policies.

Palin left Alaska with her own approval ratings hovering in the mid-50s, and frankly, policy wise, that’s all she’s got to hang her hat on. paints a less than rosy view for Madame Palin (though I will be quick to point out that I loathe averages in polling):

The conventional wisdom on Sarah Palin is that she’s a divisive figure, and, from what polls tell us, that’s true: according to’s average, 38 percent of Americans hold a favorable view of her, while 49.2 percent view her unfavorably. So she’s in minus territory–11.2 percent more Americans view her negatively than positively–which is bad for any politician running for office (if indeed she is).

However, amongst Republicans, she remains a hot item:

But among Republicans, she does quite well, outperforming her two chief rivals.
According to a new Fox poll–the first major poll on Palin since her book release and media blitz–a full 70 percent of Republicans view her favorably, while 21 percent view her unfavorably. Huckabee, meanwhile, collects 63 percent favorable vs. 28 percent unfavorable; Romney gets 60 percent favorable vs. 20 percent unfavorable.

All this suggests that she has room to grow, and she may very well grow if she manages to carve out a Reagan-esque role as the loyal opposition with top notch policy chops. Only the next few years (and in particular, CPAC 2010) will tell us what direction she’s headed in. However, early indications are that she’s not using her book too much for policy (although she’s regularly scoring points against the administration on Facebook, and frankly, that might be worth more these days). Worse yet, she’s suffering from the same problem that has plagued her since the rumors for 2012 began: bad handling. For example, there was a bad scene at one of her Indiana stops:

The store handed out 1,000 wristbands for Thursday night’s book signing, which wrapped up just before 9 p.m. Those who got to meet a woman they consider an idol walked away happy.

“I said, ‘Sarah, thanks for hearing our voices,'” said Nancy Rourke of Greenwood. “She’s just selling what she is: good policy, good values for our country,” said Margie Kimes.

Before getting back on her bus just after 9 p.m., Palin thanked the crowd one more time.”Noblesville, this was so great. You guys are hardcore patriots. Thank you so much for being here,” she said.

But not everyone went away happy. Several dozen people who had wristbands were turned away. “They didn’t have this organized well enough,” said Sue Hendricks. “It was just not done right.”
“I’m very disappointed. I think it was very rude. She could have at least apologized, and she didn’t even do that,” said Teresa Hedrick.

Many of the unhappy people stood in the rain all day, bought the book from Borders and clutched their wristbands for their opportunity to meet Palin. “We bought two books from Borders to have our receipt and our wristband to get it signed tonight,” said one woman. “My books are going back to Borders tomorrow.”

“We gave up our entire workday, stayed in the cold. My kids were crying,” said one man. “They went home with my wife. She was out here in the freezing cold all day. I feel like I don’t want to support Sarah.”

Not an auspicious start for a tour that was pretty well planned, taking her through a number of Republican hotbeds (including the Roanoke Valley in the next few weeks). For those who are doubtful, there is video:

I’m not saying that this is indicative of the woman or her character. Indeed, she’s already apologized and by doing it via Facebook left herself open to alot of criticism directed right at her, so good on her. But her crew is going to need to do ALOT better than this if she’s going to keep the good times going with her Republican base AND get middle America to buy into the Sarah phenom.

  1. November 21, 2009 at 6:36 pm


    Glad to see you back on the blogging trail! Congratulations on the numbers out of Harrisonburg.

    A couple of things about this article need to be addressed. First, Palin is not the manager if the Noblesville Borders bookstore. Borders was responsible for the limited number of wristbands and the disorganization, not Palin.

    Palin’s team has actually been very organized on their end. She has brought on several heavyweight political operatives that worked in the White House under the hyper-organized Bush political operation.

    Palin is growing politically, and she is handling it much better than some would like to suggest.

    • November 21, 2009 at 7:08 pm


      Point taken on the Noblesville stopped. As I mentioned, I think it was pretty smart of her to go to mid-market locations in swing state to start the tour off. However, I would counter that this comes with inherent risks–particularly the fact that staff may just not be ready for such a scene at their stores. I may try to go down to Roanoke myself just to scope it out to see how she’s receieved her in our own part of the woods.

      I’ll grant you that she is growing politically, and I thought I had struggled to give credit where credit is due. If not, mea culpa. However, the fact of the matter is that ALL the candidates really only have about 1.5 years to get their stuff together. I think we’re starting to see the signs of a turnaround, but there’s a number of key events coming up (CPAC 2010, for example) that will show just how much her operation has grown. The scheduling kerfluffles that plagued her earlier this year are not going to be allowable in the coming fund raising season in some of the major primary states (SC, VA, IA, NH and FL all seem to have alot of state/county fund raising dinners in the winter months).

      All this being said, $75 in Border gift cards and a 40% coupon mean that I’ll probably snag her book soon, and then I’ll have a better picture of where she’s headed. At this point, I have no favorites, other than I have a hunch we haven’t seen the nominee emerge yet.

  2. November 21, 2009 at 7:51 pm


    Appreciate the response. Are you going to have anymore local Shenandoah County stories?

  3. November 21, 2009 at 9:07 pm

    Sorry, just read your starting back post and got my answer.

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