Yglesias thinks it's all in (male) right-wing pundits' heads:
Now the simple fact of the matter is that Palin is an unpopular figure. There's no sense arguing about this. Likewise, the polls show unambiguously that most people who watched her debate performance were unimpressed. And yet among male conservative pundits .... gushing praise was extremely common. But before this loose talk of a Palin 2012 campaign takes off, people need to realize that her appeal seems grounded in the psychosexual hang-ups of conservative men. Her hyper-unpopularity with women makes her an unpopular figure overall, and talk of her mesmerizing qualities doesn't change that.
"No sense arguing?" Really? Look, it's certainly true that Palin has relatively low favorable ratings compared to the other candidates in the race, especially among women. But going into the debate, and coming off a week of round-the-clock public mockery following her disastrous interview with Katie Couric, she still had higher positives than negatives (according to Time, 47 percent of Americans viewed her favorably, and 40 percent viewed her negatively), so calling her a flat-out "unpopular figure" seems at the very least debatable. And while the post-debate polls show that most people gave the edge to Biden, I'm not sure that it's "unambiguous" that Americans were unimpressed with Palin's performance. In this CNN poll, for instance, she was judged the more likable candidate by 54 percent of viewers, compared to 36 percent for Biden. This CBS poll, meanwhile, found that "fifty-five percent of the uncommitted voters said their opinion of Palin had changed for the better as a result of the debate; just 14 percent said they had a lower opinion of her"; it also found that "Palin's rating improved after the debate on being knowledgeable on important issues - from 43 percent to 66 percent ... [and] Uncommitted voters' views of Palin's preparedness for the job of vice president also improved as a result of her debate performance - from 39 percent to 55 percent." These are not world-beating numbers by any means - Biden's knowledgeability and preparedness scores were off the charts - and the public's (completely justifiable) doubts about Palin's preparedness and experience may ultimately make her a liability to McCain in this campaign. But neither are they numbers that suggest that she can dismissed out of hand as an inarguably "unpopular" figure with no future in American politics, who's stock is being artificially inflated by the sexual fantasies of right-wing pundits.
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