In the wake of Sarah Palin's nomination, a surprising number of people -- some of whom weren't even operating in bad faith -- suggested that the smart thing to do when faced with a popular political opponent would be to avoid attacking her, lest the attacks cause a backlash. Looking at the Research 2000 tracking poll data, however, confirms common sense -- when you attack someone, she becomes less popular.
I was one of the people who urged the Obama campaign not to attack Palin (if I was arguing in bad faith, I wasn't aware of it) in the wake of the convention, and I still think it was good advice; in fact, I also think it's advice that the Democratic ticket has largely taken over the past week-to-ten days. Palin's fall, I suspect, has been driven primarily by negative press reports on her Alaska career (with the anti-Palin notebook dumps in the Times and the Post leading the way), ongoing coverage of the still-simmering Troopergate scandal - and especially by her widely-watched, none-too-impressive interview with Charlie Gibson, which aired the day her slide in the polls began. The Obama campaign, meanwhile, has busied itself going after McCain - for lying in his ads, for being out of touch on the economy, etc. etc. - and avoiding the "she's just a small-town mayor" attacks that they trotted out immediately after the Palin pick was announced. Or at least that's been my impression - it's possible that there's been a barrage of anti-Palin fire from the Obama camp that I've missed, but by and large it seems like they've been doing a decent job of just getting out of the way, and leaving it to the media (and Palin herself) to undo her initial spike in popularity.
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