Survey Says: People Still Care About Sarah Palin (Really!)

By David A. Graham

Even as she fades from the national spotlight, the former vice-presidential contender gets plenty of love on the Internet.

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Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

I'm going to let you in on a little journalism secret. Time was, political reporters knew that any post about Sarah from Alaska was any easy way to get eyeballs. (In one week in May 2010, I wrote three separate items under the rubric "Sarah Palin Real-Estate Watch." All were well-read.) Nowadays, the magic is gone. There's no serious talk of Palin 2016. There are no more reality TV shows. Her endorsement mojo has evaporated, and the term "Mama Grizzly" seldom echoes on the airwaves. Palin wasn't invited to speak at the Republican National Convention. She's even beefing with Fox News, a once unimaginable turn of events.

So a release from Yahoo as part of their year in review came as a bit of a surprise. Here are the top 5 most searched politicians on the search engine this year:

1. barack obama
2. mitt romney
3. sarah palin
4. ron paul
5. hillary clinton

After the presidential election, one and two make sense; so do four (the good doctor is, after all, an Internet favorite) and five (the secretary is often in the news). But Palin?

This Google Trends chart shows that traffic for her has declined sharply on the leading search engine:

So here's one possibility: Yahoo's users may skew older and more conservative than Google's. I've been unable to find up-to-date numbers on the demographics, but certainly Yahoo has tended to have older users in the past. But it's also the case that even as she fades from the Beltway spotlight, Palin remains very popular among political non-elites.

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2012/12/survey-says-people-still-care-about-sarah-palin-really/265844/