A Decade Of Opinions: What Readers Said In Our Year-End Polls

By Chris Good

Here at Atlantic Politics, we posted a series of polls over the past few weeks to cap off 2010 and ring in the new decade of politics, asking readers a range of questions--from predictions for 2012 to the decade's most enduring moment to the most over-used political word.

The polls are still live on our site (so, by all means, keep voting, and results are subject to change) but here's a rundown of the top vote-getters as of now:

GOP Presidential Nomination in 2012: While the race may be up in the air this far away from America's next presidential election, Sarah Palin cleaned up in our poll on who will win the GOP nomination in 2012. Results: Palin, 42%; Mitt Romney, 24%; Mike Huckabee, 13%; Tim Pawlenty, 9%; Rick Santorum, 5%; Ron Paul, 2%; Newt Gingrich, 2%; other, 2%; Eric Cantor, 1%.

The Decade's Moment in History: The decade's most enduring moment, by a solid margin, was 9/11 according to our readers--but the election of America's first black president put up a good showing. Results: 9/11, 53%; election of Barack Obama, 34; the Iraq war, 12%; the selection of Sarah Palin as John McCain's running mate, 1%; Hurricane Katrina, <1%; other, <1%.

Republican Who Had the Best Year: With her book tour that drew passionate fans in the thousands at almost every stop, Palin also took home the gold in our poll on which Republican which Republican had the best 2009. Results: Sarah Palin, 36%; Mitt Romney, 31%; Ron Paul, 11%, Tim Pawlenty, 10%; Mike Huckabee, 9%; other, 3%.

GOP Scandal of the Decade: The sex scandals, juicy as they were, apparently didn't stand a chance against the GOP lobbying scandal surrounding Jack Abramoff in our poll on the top GOP scandal of the decade. Results: the Abramoff investigaion, 47%; Mark Foley's IMs to young male pages, 15%; Larry Craig's "wide stance," 15%; other, 14%; Mark Sanford's Argentinian affair, 10%.

Democratic Scandal of the Decade: John Edwards beat out some juicy scandals on the left side of the aisle, besting Eliot Spitzer by nearly 20 percentage points when we inquired about the top Democratic scandal of the decade. Results: John Edwards' affair with Reille Hunter, 45%; Eliot Spitzer's prostite patronage, 26%; William Jefferson's bribe money hidden in a freezer, 25%; Jim McGreevey announces he's a "gay American," 2%; Jim Traficant goes to jail, 1%; other, 1%.

Rise and Fall of the GOP: It was the unpopular Bush presidency--not the economic collapse, Palin, or the tea partiers--that brought down the Republican Party, according to responses to our poll on the GOP's downfall. Results: the Bush presidency, 62%; social conservatism, 12%; Sarah Palin, 10%; the Tea Party movement, 9%; the economic collapse, 8%.

Most Over-used Word: We'll try to stop using "MSM." Results: "MSM," 39%; "polarizing," 22; "change," 17%; "Rovian," 9%; "snark," 8%; other, 6%.

Decade's Worst Gaffe: The decade's worst political gaffe wasn't anything uttered off the cuff--in fact, it was printed on a banner. Results: Mission accomplished, 77%; John McCain's inability to recall how many houses he owned, 13%; other, 4%; John Kerry's 2006 "botched joke"; President Obama jokes about Nancy Reagan and seances in his first post-election press conference, 2%; Mike Huckabee hosts press conference to announce he won't run negative ad, shows negative ad at press conference, 1%.

Obama's Most Powerful Adviser: President Obama's most powerful adviser was the pugnacious chief of staff, not the consultant who plotted Obama's path to power or the trusted friend from Chicago, according to our readers. Results: Rahm Emanuel, 45%; David Axelrod, 36%; Valerie Jarrett, 9%; Vice President Joe Biden, 6%; other, 3%; David Plouffe, 1%.

Political Satirist of the Decade: It figured to be a tough race between the two Comedy Central stars, but the host of the Daily Show won out (perhaps his extra years on the air helped out) in our poll on the best political satirist of the decade. Results: Jon Stewart, 62%; Stephen Colbert, 34%; JibJab, 2%; other, 2%; Harry Shearer, <1%.

Poltical Tech Innovation of the Decade: For all the recent talk of Twitter, readers didn't give it much weight in our poll on the best poli-tech innovation of the decade. Instead it was YouTube, with its capacity to turn any moment into an Internet phenomenon, that took first. Results: YouTube, 54%; texting, 18%; individual psychographic microtargeting, 12%; Convio donation accounting software, 7%; Twitter, 6%; other, 3%.

Political Innovator of the Decade: Karl Rove may have ushered in eight years of Republican rule, but he took a backseat to two Democrats as an innovator in our poll. Rather, it was Joe Trippi, the tech-savvy manager of Howard Dean's 2004 White House campaign that brought politics into the Internet era, who took home the prize from our readers as the decade's top political innovator, Results: Joe Trippi, Dean '04 campaign manager, 46%; Markos Moulitsas, founder of DailyKos.com, 25%; Karl Rove, master GOP strategist, 18%; Alex Gage, GOP microtargeting guru, 5%; other, 5%; Ken Mehlman, ex-Republican National Committee chairman, White House political director, and Bush '04 campaign manager, 1%.

Media Figure Most Likely to Run for President: Perhaps because he indicated he'd consider it, Lou Dobbs took first when we asked which media figure is most likely to run for president. Glenn Beck, who commands a passionate following of his own, isn't such a likely candidate, according to readers. Results: Lou Dobbs, 62%; Joe Scarborough, 21%; Glenn Beck, 8%; Chris Matthews, 3%; Rush Limbaugh, 2%; Tom Brokaw, 2%; other, 2%.

Decade's Most Trenchant Media Critic: The Comedy Central duo trumped more "serious" media critics, so to speak, when we asked readers to rate the decade's most trenchant media critic. Results: Jon Stewart/Stephen Colbert, Comedy Central, 79%; Glenn Greenwald, Salon.com, 12%; Andrew Breitbart, Breitbart.com, 6%; other, 2%; Howard Kurtz, The Washington Post, 1%; Jay Rosen, New York University, 1%.

Best Political Book of the Decade: There was tight competition in our poll for best political book of the decade, with the history of LBJ topping those of covert U.S. involvement in Afghanistan and Abraham Lincoln's political genius. Results: "Master of the Senate," by Robert Caro, 33%; "Ghost Wars," by Steve Coll, 24%; "Team of Rivals," by Doris Kearns Goodwin, 23%; other, 10%; "Legacy of Ashes," by Tim Weiner, 7%; "The Big Sort," by Richard Florida, 4%.

Obama's Approval in 2010: Readers said the president will be doing a few points better than he is now--but no more--when we asked what President Obama's approval rating will be in August 2010. Results: 50-55, 46%; 55-60, 26%; below 50, 20%; above 60, 7%; other, 1%.

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http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2010/01/a-decade-of-opinions-what-readers-said-in-our-year-end-polls/32935/