Palin Dragging McCain Down?

A NYT/CBS poll shows that a strong majority of voters believe Sarah Palin is unqualified for the vice presidency and a third saying this would affect their vote:

Gov. Sarah Palin, campaigning Thursday in Cape Girardeau, Mo., as poll numbers flagged.  (Whitney Curtis/Getty Images)

Gov. Sarah Palin, campaigning Thursday in Cape Girardeau, Mo., as poll numbers flagged. (Whitney Curtis/Getty Images)

All told, 59 percent of voters surveyed said Ms. Palin was not prepared for the job, up nine percentage points since the beginning of the month. Nearly a third of voters polled said the vice-presidential selection would be a major factor influencing their vote for president, and those voters broadly favor Senator Barack Obama, the Democratic nominee.

And in a possible indication that the choice of Ms. Palin has hurt Mr. McCain’s image, voters said they had much more confidence in Mr. Obama to pick qualified people for his administration than they did in Mr. McCain.

[…]

The increase in the number of voters who said Ms. Palin was not prepared was driven almost entirely by Republicans and independents.

Over all, views of Ms. Palin were apparently shaped more by ideology and party than by gender. Ms. Palin was viewed as unprepared for the job by about 6 in 10 men and women alike. But 8 in 10 Democrats viewed her as unprepared, as well as more than 6 in 10 independents and 3 in 10 Republicans.

The bold highlighted text is key here:  A third of self-identified Republicans and two-thirds of independents think Palin unprepared.

The former includes the likes of former Secretary of State Larry Eagleburger, who said in an NPR appearance yesterday in which he was making the case for a McCain presidency that, “of course” she’s not ready.

Asked by the host whether Palin could step in during a time of crisis, Eagleburger reverted to sarcasm before leveling the harsh blow.

“It is a very good question,” he said, pausing a few seconds, then adding with a chuckle: “I’m being facetious here. Look, of course not.”

Eagleburger explained: “I don’t think at the moment she is prepared to take over the reigns of the presidency. I can name for you any number of other vice presidents who were not particularly up to it either. So the question, I think, is can she learn and would she be tough enough under the circumstances if she were asked to become president, heaven forbid that that ever takes place?

“Give her some time in the office and I think the answer would be, she will be [pause] adequate. I can’t say that she would be a genius in the job. But I think she would be enough to get us through a four year… well I hope not… get us through whatever period of time was necessary. And I devoutly hope that it would never be tested.”

Looking at the polls, I’m pretty sure she won’t.

The conventional wisdom has long been that people don’t vote based on the VP pick; it would be odd, indeed, if the trend were broken in the wrong direction.  Then again, given the economic meltdown, Bush’s popularity, and Obama’s money, it may well have been that McCain could have chosen a candidate who combined all the virtues of Ronald Reagan, Abe Lincoln, and George Washington and not pulled it off.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2008, Public Opinion Polls, US Politics, , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Alex Knapp says:

    All told, 59 percent of voters surveyed said Ms. Palin was not prepared for the job, up nine percentage points since the beginning of the month.

    This is just further proof that the American electorate is “in the tank” for Obama. Disgusting, really.

  2. Rick DeMent says:

    Reality has a well established liberal bias.

  3. rodney dill says:

    This is just further proof that the American electorate is “in the tank” for Obama. Disgusting, really.

    If they weren’t in the tank for BO they wouldn’t ignore BO’s lack of qualifications. I’ve never advocated that Palin was perfectly matched to the task only that BO and Palin have roughly the same qualifications and experience. Of course this person isn’t in the tank for BO. I guess you don’t need experience and other qualifications, you only need to promise to pay for peoples gas and mortgages.

  4. sam says:

    Palin Dragging McCain Down?

    Evidently, if Roger Simon of Politico is to be believed, some in the McCain camp think Sarah’s the one too bear the brunt of the criticism if he loses:

    John McCain’s campaign is looking for a scapegoat. It is looking for someone to blame if McCain loses on Tuesday.

    And it has decided on Sarah Palin.

    In recent days, a McCain “adviser” told Dana Bash of CNN: “She is a diva. She takes no advice from anyone.”

    Imagine not taking advice from the geniuses at the McCain campaign. What could Palin be thinking?

    Also, a “top McCain adviser” told Mike Allen of Politico that Palin is “a whack job.”

    Simon does go on to say, though, that, really, this is BS as far as fixing blame if McCain loses the election. After all, he made the choice; can’t blame Sarah for that:

    In truth, Palin’s real problem is not her personality or whether she takes orders well. Her real problem is that neither she nor McCain can make a credible case that Palin is ready to assume the presidency should she need to.

    And that undercuts McCain’s entire campaign.

    This was the deal McCain made with the devil. In exchange for energizing his base by picking Palin, he surrendered his chief selling point: that he was better prepared to run the nation in time of crisis, whether it be economic, an attack by terrorists or, as he has been talking about in recent days, fending off a nuclear war.

    Of course, we’ve seen not-so-subtle signs of Sarah positioning herself for life after Tuesday, and this can’t be going down too well at Casa McCain. But if things really go sideways on Tuesday for McCain, I don’t really see how you can blame her in any ultimate sense.

  5. sam says:

    I guess you don’t need experience and other qualifications, you only need to promise to pay for peoples gas and mortgages.

    Uh, Rodney, I don’t know about paying for other people’s gas, but you are aware, aren’t you, that McCain has offered to buy up other people’s mortages

    McCain’s Mortgage Bailout Plan
    The GOP candidate wants to spend $300 billion to buy out “underwater” homeowners at the original value of their mortgages, a plan sharply criticized by a top Obama adviser

  6. Patrick T. McGuire says:

    A third of self-identified Republicans and two-thirds of independents think Palin unprepared.

    And if you believe this, give me a call. I have this bridge in Brooklyn I am trying to sell.

    The conventional wisdom has long been that people don’t vote based on the VP pick;

    The ONLY reason McCain is still in this race is because of Sarah Palin.

  7. rodney dill says:

    Uh, Rodney, I don’t know about paying for other people’s gas, but you are aware, aren’t you, that McCain has offered to buy up other people’s mortages

    …and I’m not too fond of McCain’s plan either, but McCain’s plan as I heard it was to buy off the bad mortgages and allow people to refinance at the current market value. This is not quite the same as not having to pay anything for the mortgage. I’m sure you realize that Obama hasn’t promised that people won’t have to pay anything for gas or their mortgages either. (if you have a video to the contrary I’d like to see it). The woman in the video is just an example of someone so blindly “in the tank” for Obama that she is overlooking any real election issues, such as, experience and qualifications.

  8. sam says:

    The woman in the video is just an example of someone so blindly “in the tank” for Obama that she is overlooking any real election issues, such as, experience and qualifications.

    Well, you know, there are two tanks in this election, and I’m sure the McCain tank is as full up to the brim with blind swimmers as the Obama tank. Hey, and how about the latest news on Obama: He’s really the son of Malcom X. How deep in the tank would you put this McCain supporter?

  9. Matt says:

    Despite the numbers who think she’s unprepared, if you look further down the poll, it doesn’t seem to matter too much overall. They asked the question, “What is your biggest concern”, and VP pick garners a whopping 2%. Obama’s inexperience tops that just slightly at 26%.

    I guess it’s easier to make the case that she was a horrendous choice if you leave out the fact that, as always, the vice presidency “isn’t worth a cup of warm spit”.

  10. Arcs says:

    Reality has a well established liberal bias.

    Reality is that which doesn’t go away when you stop believing in it. (attributable to someone wiser than I)

  11. Anderson says:

    to buy off the bad mortgages

    = “to reward the sleazes who made incredibly stupid mortgage loans.” Not a surprising GOP proposal, of course. Lenders are never stupid or bad, because if they were, why would they have the money?

    — As for Eagleburger’s comments, HARSH.

  12. anjin-san says:

    IF “experience and qualification” were what made a President, GHW Bush would be up on Mt. Rushmore.

    Reality is that every time Obama speaks, more Americans become convinced that he is indeed qualified for the job.

    The converse is true of Palin, every time she speaks, peoples confidence in her goes down. Considering that a fair amount of what she says it outright gibberish, this is hardly a surprise.

  13. John Cole says:

    Did I miss the plaintive wail from Bithead, or am I here in time?

  14. anjin-san says:

    as always, the vice presidency “isn’t worth a cup of warm spit”.

    Hmmm. Guess you have not heard of Mr. Cheney, who, like him or not, wielded vast power from the office.

  15. Todd says:

    Ok, maybe I swim in the wrong circles, but the majority of the people I know who are voting McCain have gone from holding our noses to do so to excitement over the ticket because of Palin, not in spite of her. And I know no one who has decided to vote for O instead of McCain because of her.

    I would far rather have an underprepared VP candidate than an underprepared lead candidate or is that just too much common sense?

  16. Ottovbvs says:

    It’s well known that far right Republicans are getting ever further from reality. If you doubt it just read some of these comments that claim the ONLY REASON McCain is competitive is because of Palin. Pay no attention to the evidence of this poll which essentially just says what all the others do that Palin has proved a disaster because they know better. I can only tell you from my own experience that I know a stack of Republicans who are NOT going to vote for McCain because of Palin so that the a third of them are anti is not really surprising. Look McCain was never likely to win this campaign even though the Dems fielded an exotic candidate but what’s destroyed him has been his erratic performance of which the Palin pick is one part and the relentless negativity of his campaigning. Wheneve he makes a speech or appears on tv all he does is attack Obama and never advances any vision of where we’re going. There’s also the fact that the exotic Obama has turned out to be an inspired pick. This guy is a star who excites even me a mild Republican in his mid sixties.

  17. Billy says:

    Did I miss the plaintive wail from Bithead, or am I here in time?

    No, you’re just in the wrong thread (see his comments about undecided voters breaking 4 to 1 for McCain, above).

  18. LJ Wash says:

    Your article is hogwash! How can it be that Palin is dragging McCain down when McCain was supposed to get the independent vote? Heck McCain is the top of the ticket. When pundits can’t be fair, they will be discounted. The NY Times is an unrepentent rag.

  19. Derrick says:

    Your article is hogwash! How can it be that Palin is dragging McCain down when McCain was supposed to get the independent vote? Heck McCain is the top of the ticket. When pundits can’t be fair, they will be discounted. The NY Times is an unrepentent rag.

    My vote for best post at contradicting itself goes to this one. I guess your not getting that one of the reason he is NOT getting the Independent vote is because Independents don’t like Palin. I don’t know why this is so difficult. Personally, I don’t play the guilt by association game, but I’d be stupid to think that Obama’s association with Rev. Wright doesn’t hurt him some with Independents. But I guess that is the burden of setting aside what I WANT to be true and coming to grip with reality.

  20. A NYT/CBS poll shows that a strong majority of voters believe Sarah Palin is unqualified for the vice presidency …

    The self-fulfilling prophecy when perception becomes reality. When you start getting the heebie-jeebies because Senator Obama is less qualified than Governor Palin, let me know.

  21. Swibbie says:

    Sarah Palin is not going away. She is a rising star in conservatism, and all the biased, lying polls you can trot out will not change that.

    And yes, Sarah Palin is the ONLY reason this race is close. You see, ‘Ottovbvs’, we don’t wear tin foil hats and we don’t EVER believe what the NYT or CBS “poll” is saying. They have proven over and over again that they are liars, and their “polls” have NEVER been proven to be even close to accurate.

    The press is obsessed with Sarah Palin because they need to destroy her. We know that. But win or lose, Sarah Palin is going to be around for a long, long time. Probably longer than either the NYT or CBS.

  22. sam says:

    Sarah Palin is not going away. She is a rising star in conservatism, and all the biased, lying polls you can trot out will not change that.

    He’s certainly right about this. And I for one look forward to the coming warfare, if McCain loses, between Bobby Jindal and Sarah Palin for control of the Republican party. Should be fun.

  23. cian says:

    I would far rather have an underprepared VP candidate than an underprepared lead candidate or is that just too much common sense?

    Todd,

    Its a neat argument, but the country’s just not buying it. While she has certainly energized the far right of the republican base, its not enough to take the presidency, and never will be.

    Obama continues to impress an ever increasing number of voters with his calm and obvious understanding of the moment we now find ourselves in, and with the clarity of his proposals.

    Palin, on the other hand, seems determined to associate herself with the worst elements of the right, moving further and further away through word and deed from independents and moderates.

  24. Dimitri says:

    Unfortunately its true. My wife refused to vote for Palin. Since my wife never was a Democrat, I believe its something personal. A women will never vote for another successful and good-looking woman. Some say Hillary disprove that, but Hillary was the abandoned wife, that’s was her main advantage. McCain should have chosen a lonely handicapped mother of two, that would win him overwhelming support.

  25. rodney dill says:

    Well, you know, there are two tanks in this election, and I’m sure the McCain tank is as full up to the brim with blind swimmers as the Obama tank.

    The Obama tank is obviously much bigger or more people would be questioning Obama’s qualifications and experinces, which are only comparable to Palin’s and not to McCain’s or even Biden’s.

  26. John425 says:

    The “Bash Sarah” contingency, led by the MSM, is also filled with “Elite Republicans” who will get their come-uppance when we ordinary people take back the Party. I hope to see Sarah in the Senate in 2010 or a full Presidential run in 2012.
    Then George Will, Noonan and Parker, along with the Romney slime who are undermining Palin even today- can all go pound salt!

  27. Frank D. Banta says:

    The NYT is such a bastion of objective reporting. If we have learned anything in this election cycle it is that we no longer have an objective and free press in America.

    I’ll take Palin over the other three candidates combined. Is she experienced? More so than the others. Will she make mistakes? No more than the others. She has demonstrated her orientation by her work as Governor of Alaska. That is far more than we’ve seen from Obama. We know she is for smaller government, lower cost government; that she understands that citizens are the sovereigns in this county, not the inside-the-Beltwayers or the idiotic intelligentsia (who of course are appoplectic at the thought of her in power)

  28. Angie Bishop says:

    I JUST HOPE WE WILL HAVE THE CHOICE OF WHICH COLOR TOWEL OUR KIDS WILL WEAR AROUND THEIR HEADS WHEN OBAMA TAKES OVER AND THE WORLD BECOMES ONE BIG HAPPY FAMILY!!!!

  29. James Joyner says:

    I hope to see Sarah in the Senate in 2010 or a full Presidential run in 2012.

    Then George Will, Noonan and Parker, along with the Romney slime who are undermining Palin even today- can all go pound salt!

    If Palin’s the 2012 nominee, the party will get 35% of the vote.

  30. G.A.Phillips says:

    Its a neat argument, but the country’s just not buying it. While she has certainly energized the far right of the republican base, its not enough to take the presidency, and never will be.

    lol

    Obama continues to impress an ever increasing number of voters with his calm and obvious understanding of the moment we now find ourselves in, and with the clarity of his proposals.

    You must have coolaid coming out of your ears.

    Reality is that every time Obama speaks, more Americans become convinced that he is indeed qualified for the job.

    lol, I just hope you don’t pee in the same coolaid tank your swimming in and the wimpy color blue is drinking out of.

  31. KevinA says:

    James Joyner at 4:16= FTW.

    Your excommunication hearings begin 11/5/08.

  32. Nefarious Wheel says:

    I think the most compelling criticism of Sarah Palin is that she doesn’t read.

    Come to think of it (and in light of the geographical confusion evinced by some of his comments), I am beginning to believe you can apply the same argument to John McCain as well.

    This is not good; you can’t depend on other people for all your information, especially given the profound vetting of such that goes in circles of power. Sometimes you need to read, and I suspect the evidence is that neither one is overly familiar with the printed page.

    And sometimes you just can’t teach a young dog new tricks, either. You can’t run a country of one third of a billion people with a least-common-denominator intellect.

    Check Sarah’s scholastic record. I remember someone posted her transcripts under a FOI inquiry, including her GPA and IQ test* results, which (although normally not something one would do) I think is a fair to apply for discovery given the gravity of the position Sarah is applying for.

    (*High school transcripts under her maiden name, 2.2 and 83, respectively, with photo ID. The FOI report was a PDF of old scanned documents and did not appear to be photoshopped. If further corroboration is needed I’d prefer you used your own sources or a third-party independent.)