Americans Don't Think Palin Could Be 'Effective President'

Or so says a new poll. What, precisely, does that mean?

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A new 60 Minutes/Vanity Fair poll finds that Americans don't really know who Emily Post was, and are just as likely to see Mel Gibson's movies despite learning that the actor abused his former girlfriend and indulged in racist-slur filled rants. It also finds a majority of Americans don't think Sarah Palin "would have the ability to be an effective president." It's this last factoid political bloggers find interesting (regrettable, perhaps, for those more concerned with etiquette). While 60 percent of respondents think Palin is not qualified, self-identified conservatives are about evenly split, while Republicans lean slightly in Palin's favor. Here are political bloggers' attempts to translate the results:

  • 'Awful Numbers ... But'  Time's Michael Crowley point out that "perception of Palin could still change." Prior to the 2008 election, voters seemed similarly unsure about Barack Obama's readiness, as a first-term senator, for the presidency. Of course, "Obama's numbers were never Palin bad."
  • Don't Read This as People Not Liking Palin  Politico's Ben Smith points out that it's possible for conservatives to like Palin while not wanting her to run for president. Both Jesse Jackson and Jon Stewart, he points out, are beloved by the left but not necessarily considered presidential material. Stewart, he writes, is also similar to Palin for being beloved because he "gives the left a bit of what Palin gives the right--acid straight talk on the bogeyman of the moment."
  • Don't Read This as Much of Anything  "These Vanity Fair polls are a joke," says law professor William Jacobson at Legal Insurrection. "There are few choices given to the interviewees, there is no depth of questioning, and they mix pop culture questions ... in with political questions." Furthermore, media outlets are saying the poll showed "a clear majority of Americans don't think [Palin] has the right credentials to be president," but that's not, Jacobson counters, what the question asked. The question was: "Do you think Sarah Palin would have the ability to be an effective president?" Effectiveness could depend "on a number of factors," says Jacobson, "including the strength of opposition." What this poll shows, he argues, is that some think--perhaps taking into account extreme media hostility--that Palin "may have trouble being an 'effective' president.'"
  • Proof That Palin Wouldn't Have a Shot  "Any rational person looking at numbers like this would realize that they have no chance of winning a General Election," remarks Doug Mataconis at Outside the Beltway.
  • Who Are These 'Conservatives'? writes Christian Heinze at the GOP 12 blog. "Why," he wonders, looking at the numbers, "would conservatives be more likely than Republicans, at large, to doubt Palin's executive abilities? It would've been helpful to ask more political questions of these conservatives to get a better grip on who they are."
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