I was interviewed on PBS last week about Palin's book release. I said that Palin had an especially serious problem with women voters.
This is just fact, again recorded in every survey. In October 2008, Palin's support dropped furthest and fastest among women, and especially among independents: more than two dozen points among independent women in barely 6 weeks. Consistently since the campaign, every survey has shown the former Alaska governor much more popular among men than women. And yet this attested statistical fact is shrugged off with comments like, "when I saw her campaign in N.H., I was surrounded by moms with strollers"
So let's try to bang this one down for keeps.
Earlier this month, CNN/Opinion Research released a poll showing that only 28% of Americans now think Palin qualified for the presidency. 70% say she is unqualified. Even among Republicans, only 54% think she is qualified, 44% say No.
The published poll does not break these answers down by sex, but I asked my friends at the Political Unit for the cross-tabs, and here's what they show:
While 33% of men deem Palin qualified, only 24% of women do. 66% of men deem her unqualified - and 74% of women.
Now look just at Republicans: Republican men deem Palin "qualified" by a margin of 60-38. But Republican women? Not even half think she is qualified: only 49%. 50% of Republican women say Palin is unqualified for the job.
If you like Palin - well go ahead. It's a free country. But quit saying that "the people" love Sarah Palin.
They don't. Actually, they quite dislike her. The longer they know her, the more they dislike her. And even more than they dislike her, they do not respect her. That reaction of dislike and disrespect is most concentrated among American women.
The cliche says never say never. Whatever. You can't be a female candidate, and have only a quarter of all American women think you're qualified. You can't be a female candidate and have half of all American woman in your own party think you're unqualified.
Frum points to a lack of respect, and I think he's right. But I also think there's also a pride issue. Black people took great pride in Joe Louis and Jackie Robinson. We took great pride in Booker T. Washington and Martin Luther King. We took great pride in Jesse Jackson when he was running in the 80s, and Barack Obama, now. We felt, in the words of old, like these people represented. But Sarah Palin is to women what Alan Keyes is to blacks--embarrassing. The prospect of a disastrous Palin presidency, one which confirm every stereotype, fills them with dread and repulsion. There simply is no way that American women will allow her to be their ambassador.