Tuesday, September 16, 2008


I'll get to the main results of Quinnipiac's new New Jersey poll in a minute, but first I want to point out some numbers that really, really don't match what everyone believes.

On the question of Sarah Palin's favorability, here are the numbers by gender:

Women: Favorable 37%, Unfavorable 36% [+1]
Men: Favorable 48%, Unfavorable 27% [+21]

Among women, it's a wash. Among men, it's a blowout.

And on the question of whether the Palin choice makes voters more or less likely to vote for McCain, here's the gender split:

Women: More Likely 25%, Less Likely 28% (-3)
Men: More Likely 29%, Less Likely 21% (+8)

Now guess which group has changed its vote. In the August poll, women favored Obama 53%-38%; now they favor him ... 54%-38%. Almost identical numbers.

It's the men who've switched -- 48%-45% Obama in August, 53%-40% McCain now.

I doubt that the overall result -- Obama's overall lead has shrunk from 10 to 3 points -- will hold up; it's fairly common for polls in New Jersey to show a tight race, but Democrats tend to win the state by fairly comfortable margins. (Compare the many tight 2004 polls with John Kerry's ultimate 7-point victory.)

But I think this poll tells us something about Palinmania.

There's also this set of counterintuitive results from a new Democracy Corps poll:

Sarah Palin's nomination and the Republican convention had a big impact on the state of the race -- though not the one the press has talked about. First, rather than persuading Hillary Clinton's supporters to vote for McCain, Palin drove Clinton's primary voters further into the Obama camp, with roughly 80 percent of Clinton's primary supporters now voting for Obama. Second, the McCain-Palin ticket has solidified the support of white non-college men who are now voting for McCain over Obama by 63 to 29 percent nationally (a margin virtually identical to what Bush achieved against Kerry in 2004) and by 62 to 31 percent in the battleground states. These voters, who shifted towards the Democrats in 2006, are likely moved by McCain's biography and national security and defense credentials, as well as Palin's cultural rhetoric and style.

You read that right -- the Palin-McCain convention made Clintonites into Obamaites, even as it shored up the GOP base, particularly non-college educated white males.

I keep saying it: I think Palin is McCain's star witness as he makes the case that he'll be the mavericky, changey new sheriff in town. And, looking at these numbers, I start to wonder if, at least in blue and purple states, it's men more than women who are swallowing this nonsense, who see Palin as Charlie's Alaskan Angel, some sort of kick-ass chick who's going to sexily lead the fight against the bad guys in Washington -- a myth that really needs to be shot down.

(Nate Silver notes that the most recent tracking polls show Palin's numbers fading. I hope this is a trend. These polls are a couple of days newer than the ones I quote above. If the bloom is off the Palin rose, McCain is in trouble.)

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