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Shocker polls: That Sarah Palin-Barack Obama gap melts to 1 point [Updated]


Lordy, Lordy, Lordy, look what the pollsters just brought in.

A pair of new surveys revealing that President Obama is still declining and has hit a new low in job approval among Americans just 56 weeks after they elected him with a decided margin.

A Top of the Ticket post Tuesday on the relative popularity of Sarah Palin and Barack Obama erred in stating in the text and the headline that there was a Palin-Obama gap of 1 point. Two separate polls were cited, as the post notes, so the findings are not directly comparable.

And -- wait for it -- Republican Sarah Palin is successfully selling a whole lot more than books out there on the road. Even among those not lining up in 10-degree weather to catch a glimpse of pretty much the only political celebrity the GOP has these days.

First, el jefe. Facing double-digit unemployment, rising spending, deficits and Afghan war casualties plus a keystone but stalled healthcare reform effort that caused a rare Sunday presidential visit to Capitol Hill, Obama recently fell below 50% job approval for the first time.

Then, last week's deft dance of rhetoric over sending reinforcements to Afghanistan but, on the other foot, bringing them home quickly maybe gave him a brief boost. That, however, collapsed with equal rapidity.

Obama's new Gallup Poll job approval number is 47%. Last month it was 53%.

Regular Ticket readers will recall how in this space in late November we pointed out that Obama's closely watched job approval slide was coinciding with Palin's little-noticed rise in favorability. And it appeared they might cross somewhere in the 40s.

Well, ex-Sen. Obama, meet ex-Gov. Palin.

The new CNN/Opinion Research Poll shows Palin now at 46% favorable. [A previous version of this post said that, at 46%, Palin was “just one point below her fellow basketball fan." The CNN/Opinion Research Poll did not ask respondents about Obama.]

(The same poll, btw, has bad news for Dick Cheney-haters; the outspoken former VP has climbed out of the 29% basement, back up to 39% now. How do you suppose he's done that without a new book? But that's another story.)

Not that either Palin or Obama will admit caring about such trivial things as disparate political polls....

...1,071 days before the 2012 election, when Republicans will have the concept of change on their side. Obama's camp is already using the looming Palin pall as a fundraising tool. Never let any potential threat go unmonetized.

The new numbers seem to indicate that despite oft-cited predictions about the dire impact of Palin resigning her Alaska governor's job in July, a lot of people who don't live in Alaska (and, come to think of it, most people don't live in Alaska) don't seem to care. She wasn't their governor then and she still isn't.

Palin's low favorable poll point of 39% came right after the midsummer resignation and she's been slowly climbing since, fueled by media attention, eager reader response over her book contents, her tour and the spontaneous outpouring of support at her carefully-calculated bus stops along the way -- 31 appearances in 25 states, many of them politically crucial.

Imagine what critics would be saying now if Palin was neglecting her elected Juneau job to sell books in the Lower 48 and talk to an elite club of Washington journalists, if there is such a thing.

The view, Palin told the capital's Gridiron Club Saturday night in her self-deprecating and at times pointed remarks (full text right here), is a whole lot better from inside the bus than from under it.

Republican Sarah Palins Going Rogue Book Cover

Palin critics -- and, by golly, there still are some, believe it or not -- say that she's a polarizing political figure.

And they're dead-on correct: 46% like her (including eight of 10 Republicans), 46% don't (including seven of 10 Democrats) and only 8% are undecided (no doubt including many who've been living underground since John McCain unveiled his VP GOP running mate in Dayton, Ohio, some15 months ago).

But here's the fascinating, little-noticed catch:

The very same polarization now holds true for Obama, the fresh fellow from the old Chicago Democratic machine who was supposed to bring hope and change to a nation tired of divisive politics and the harsh partisan tone of Washington.

Fully 83% of Democrats approve of him, but only 14% of Republicans do.

Among independents, who provided the crucial winning boost for the Democratic ticket in November 2008, Obama's support has melted to 42% today, in large part over immense spending and deficit concerns.

And as political veteran Dave Cook points out over on the Vote blog, just since last month, 3% of Obama's own Democrats have abandoned his ship, another 4% of Republicans and fully 7% of independents.

Other recent polls have shown Republicans leading for the first time this year on the generic congressional ballot and self-identified Republicans closing the gap with self-identified Democrats.

Meanwhile, Palin continued her book/celebrity sales tour across the heartland, stopping Sunday in -- oh, look! -- Iowa. "No politician comes to Iowa by accident," Republican strategist Tim Albrecht told AP's Mike Glover.

More significantly, Palin was in western Iowa, which is ruled by the Republican Party, which in the Hawkeye state these days is ruled by conservative evangelicals, who form a large chunk of Palin's evolving base. As another ex-governor, Mitt Romney, learned to his dismay in the 2008 GOP caucuses won by another ex-governor (and Baptist preacher), Mike Huckabee.

Obviously, not every politician visiting Iowa each election cycle ends up running for president. And not every Iowa winner collects the big prize. But no one gets to the White House without going to Iowa. Which Palin has now done on her own. Purportedly selling a book.

-- Andrew Malcolm

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Related items:

The secret Sarah Palin speeches we never heard

Sarah Palin's book tour: What to watch for

What's actually in Sarah Palin's book

Sarah Palin breaks with GOP to endorse Conservative

Photo: Associated Press

Comments () | Archives (278)

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Il jefe.... Hehehe... I couldn't contain my laughter when I read this sentence. Although Obama would probably like to be "Caudillo". :-)

Hasn't already pointed out your sleight of hand in this matter earlier? You're comparing President Obama's job approval ratings with Sarah Palin's favorability ratings. They're not even close to the same thing, and they shouldn't be placed side by side.

So, why are you continuing with a deceptive and misleading practice that has already been discredited?

It is a testimony to the lack of just plain old common sense and smarts of so many people in the US that Palin has any fans at all. I guess when a country elects a small minded alcoholic with a long track record of failures to be its president for eight years nothing should come as a surprise. Palin is one in a line of politicians that appeal to the lowest parts of the human being; fear, anger, hatred, bigotry, cynicism, greed. With the election of a man of character, true family values, intelligence and accomplishment like President Obama there is some sign that American society is evolving but the likes of Palin and her followers tells us that there is a still long way to go.

I'm not sure why this surprises anyone. Palin is, most likely, far more liked than even this indicates. President Obama has revealed himself to be a weak and far left leader. He has already lost the middle ground voters that elected him and is highly unlikely to get them back. If Palin runs in 2012, she wins, big.

Honestly, is Palin the best the Republicans have to offer?? What about some sort of vetting process?? Why has the Republican part abandoned any semblance of intellectual thought in their politics?

hmm, I doubt a person with so little accomplishments in her political life can become the president. Its never happened.. Oh wait...

I voted for Obama. I say this without any doubt but i would vote for Palin over obama any day of the week. The man has been nothing short of a disaster.

Shocker? Not when you use an argument as faulty as yours. Mr. Malcolm - do you know that in the world of polling, favorability does not equal approval? This is the second time you've done this and you've achieved your goal - Drudge has linked to you. But you're comparing apples to oranges. Palin doesn't have a job approval rating because she quit her job. So if you want to compare the two, you need to compare their favorability ratings. If you look at the favorability rating average for Obame, he is at 52.7% favorable and 39.6% unfavorable. If you look at the favorability average for Palin, she is 40.9% favorable and 48.5% unfavorable. Obama is +12.9% favorable and Palin -7.6% favorable. That's over a 20 point gap between the two, meaning a lot more Americans view Obama favorably than view Palin favorably.

Also, you're comparing one poll - Gallup - with another - CNN/Opinion Research, which makes your argument even more suspect. Better to use a polling average as I did.

Obama is trying to deal with the worst economic crisis since the depression, end two wars, and pass controversial healthcare legislation. Palin is selling books and posting comments on Facebook. They don't give job approvals for promoting yourself but given the challenges both are facing you would expect Palin to be viewed more favorably than Obama. But she isn't...and it's not even close.

Clear the startbursts from your eyes and be a real journalist, man.

Wonderful news but I'm sure Keith Olbermann and Rachel Madcow will spin this somehow to make her look unelectable. The more the Looney Left poke fun at Palin the more you realize that they are scared to death of her. PALIN 2012...!!!!

Now that we know that the health care bill was written by a convicted felon, while in prison, Obama's numbers should sink even lower. Alinsky followers, the whole administration. Do you think this country is ready to embrace communism?

An interesting poll would be individual Sarah Palin polls versus the other republican wannabes. I don't think the republican elites recognize the strength of the Palin following.

No surprise. Soon the chimp that mauled that woman will have surpassed Obama in favorability. What a disgrace this man is.

Come on righties, PROMISE you'll run Palin, PLEEEEAAAAAASSSEEE!?!?

Nothing would be funnier

I'd be popular too if all I had to do was ride around the country and tell people everything was someone else's fault.

Why are you comparing job approval with favorability?

Shouldn't you compare Obams's favorability? Because there are people out there who think Obama is going a bad job but still like the guy. I'm not going to link this for you because I am not the freakin' journalist, but you're trying to pull an apples-vs-oranges on us and it coincidentally happens to make Obama look less popular than he is. Wow, what are the odds?

I dont understand why this surprises anyone. Did people actually believe Obama was a centrist? Anyone educated knew all along that Obama was a hard left liberal. A lot of independents were duped. Completely duped. Now, once the curtain is pulled back and all those independents are seeing Obama for what he really is: a megalomaniacal narcissistic socialist, they are having buyers remorse...but then again, shame on them for being duped to begin with.

The poll means nothing. Sarah's biggest decision is what to wear each day. Obama is trying to fix the biggest mess in the country since the dust bowl days. Even his own party doesn't like his decisions. I'd would get higher approval than BO and I am nobody. Give me a break. If Sarah was Prez she would be in the basement, too. These are VERY tough times in the country.

Pailin is so dumb that she would run up a $1.4T defecit to promote growth. Heck she even thinks there are 57 states. Isn't it amazing that her numbers are that close to Obama's?? Yeh, me too.

B-b-but she's irrelevant!

Highly missleading headline, but whatever gets you on drudge.

Favorability and approvals are completely different. It's like comparing apples to oranges.

Obama favorability has always been 10 points or so above his current approval, which would make him about 10 or so points above palins, since you are using this yardstick to measure her.

If Rick Santorum thinks he has a chance against Sarah Palin in the GOP primary in 2012, he is a complete moron. That alone should disqualify him. And I'm a Catholic.

What's happening is the public is finding out what Sarah Palin stands for as discribed in her book, and now you see it in her appearances where its not segmented out like the Katie Couric interview. During the election, the mainstream/NY media made sure that the true Palin wasn't discovered because they knew she was a threat to their liberal agenda. When they reported on her they always found a piece of negative comment and embellished it to the point that a lot of people were against Palin but didn't know why. Her book is terrific and very revealing.

" large part over immense spending and deficit concerns."

got a citation for this ?

dont compare Sarah to "bammer" (OB) - he is a child-man - unqualified, really.

Why does the Times employ someone who is too dumb to read and evaluate poll results? Malcolm compares two different polls (Gallup and CBS) measuring two different things (favorability does not equal job approval), and tries to make a comparison.

Is Malcolm an idiot, or does he just assume that his readers are idiots?

Why a shocker? Obama is a Marxist liar that has pretty much bombed at everything. And still won't show his birth certificate! He's a fraud.

Sarah Palin has started the most brilliant campaign to take the White House in 2012. As a radio talk show host, I am excited at the prospect of a true conservative "Taking America Back"!!! Go Sarah Go!!!! Sarah Palin 2012.....
-Jon Arthur
Syndicated Conservative Radio Talk Show Host on The First Amendment Radio Network

Sarah Palin is so much brighter and experienced than the obamination, there is no comparison. Lefties hate her because she makes their lives unimportant, petty and useless. She does more in a year than ANY of them have done in a lifetime. This especially includes Sheets Byrd and St. Ted Kennedy. And she does it with a smile, with joy and looks great all the while! Liberal women are sour, dour, bitter, hateful and dried up. A good reason to stay away from the democrat party!

I must admit the real shocker about this article is that is was very well written and informative. Coming from the LA times I was expecting a anti - Palin rant which is the norm for most of the left leaning publications. I don't know what your politics are but thanks for the article.

Brilliant piece! Except for that you compared 2 different polls from 2 different sources that asked 2 different questions!

But, hey, why not just make yourself look like a total baffoon all for the sake of trying to make Obama look bad and your love Palin look good, right?

Obama's GALLUP numbers are JOB Approval. Palin's are from CNN and are FAVORABILITY.

That would make sense, of course, since Sarah Palin quit her job as Governor is UNEMPLOYED. Why not ask the American public what they think of the JOB Palin is doing as spokesperson for Sarah Palin instead of cobbling together different polls to try to make your own storyline?

Apples and oranges.

Job approval and favorability ratings are two completely different measurements.

As of the 18th of October (the last time CNN asked respondents to rate Obama), they had him at 60% favorable.

Obama must hate this comparison. His nemesis is trending up as he's trending down. What a joyous day for Palin supporters.

NINE percent approval before the election for the Reid/Pelosi/Barney Frank Congress, even according to the openly sympathetic Gallup organization. At that time, this paper told us the hapless, hated Duh-bya/Darth Vader team was crashing in the polls with 31% when that was actually three times better.

Well this is one poll that should never have been released, because it clearly says more about the poll process itself than the supposed results.

A bimbo equal to the prez? Plaeeeese....

All this poll shows is how many morons watch Jerry Springer. Maybe she'll get him to run on her ticket...

Nice job conflating two separate polls measuring two different things as if they were equal.

Your next post should be how you justify equating job approval (the Gallup poll) with popularity (the CNN poll).

If this is what passes for journalism, no wonder the country's the state it's in.

So who approves my comment?

"Comments are moderated, and will not appear until they've been approved. "

Filed under "Americans Coming to Their Senses".

All Lies and only in your wildest dreams, Palin is not even smarter than a 5th grader....but if you guys need some audacity to hope then go for it.....ha ha

You probably won't post my comments but thats cool, its all good your probably still wiping tomatoes off Sarah Palin pretty huh????

who are they polling the eskimos....

You do realize you are comparing President Obama's job approval numbers with Sarah Palin's favorability ratings? Why don't you compare her job approval numbers to his? Oh, that's right, Palin doesn't have a job--she quit hers!

Being a president is a lot like being an ex-governor, except that you have actual responsibilities.

TO: Gov. Palin

Ma'am, keep it up! However, please do lots and lots of homework on a wide variety of issues and categories...get professional coaching from professional economists, educators and real business leaders. Suggest you avoid other politicians - too decisive. Go abroad and ask questions and LISTEN! Build a PRO/CON issues spreadsheet. Continue to develop your natural speaking/communication delivery style (a little Ronald Reagan theatrics will help). But above all, just keep being Govenor Palin-with-polish. Do that and you'll be surprised at who will clamor to support and elect you to whatever office you aspire as I do for you.

Please let Sarah Palin be the Republican nominee. Go Tea Baggers, go................

Obama is pissing his approval rating away with his spending and continual blaming of George Bush. Every0ne knows the Democrats have been in control of the public purse for the last 4 years. Everyone knows Obama voted for all the spending Bush recommended and the DEMOCRAT control Congress approved. Now to use Bush as scapegoat for Obama's orgy of spending is just too hypocritical for most people. Not only is his charchter in question but so is his judgement.

What? No comments from the left on this bit of news? I guess Gibbs will ignore this poll as well. That's fine, just keep on ignoring them.

The country quickly has awoken to what they did to themselves last November. Vote in on hype and emotion a extreme out of the American mainstream actor slash poser. It is easy to be critical of our leaders but so soon this guy is taking the cake. And to boot he is following the ever more out there Nancy Pelosi and the likes of many other California politicians whom helped take this state in a place of no HOPE.


Lordy, lordy, lordy, could you please stop making the newspaper bidness look so farking stupid? Anyone with a lick of sense and a minute's worth of experience working with poll results knows you don't compare poll results based on two differently worded questions.

Obama may be more popular, as popular or less popular than Sarah Palin right now, but you can't make a case for any of these options on the basis of these two polls. You have to ask the same appropriately worded question about both of them to get comparable results.

This is the stupidest thing I've ever seen. Job approval and favorability are 2 different things. I can find Obama favorable and not approve of his job performence. But I suspect you already know this and want to make Palin look like she's as popular as Obama.

Hey, sushi for brains, note that they're different polls. Obama's is a job approval rating. Since Palin no longer has a job, poll numbers for that particular detail can't be tracked. By all means, wingnut, hitch your star to the woman who quit when the going got tough to cash out.

In the above article you make a statement, “The very same polarization now holds true for Obama, the fresh fellow from the old Chicago Democratic machine.” I believe you meant to say Democrat machine. Democratic is the style of government we practice in the US. Democrat is the party to which Mr. Obama belongs. I writer should now that.

Re: Palin and Obama, you are aware that you are comparing two different polls, correct?

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About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
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