Poll: Palin Increasingly Hurting McCain’s Election Chances
It has been suggested that Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain’s campaign is trying to make GOP Veep candidate Gov. Sarah Palin a scapegoat, by blaming her on the campaign’s polling woes and a possible defeat. A new poll suggests that if it’s true, McCain aides making that argument have a lot company — mainly, many voters who are polled:
A growing number of voters have concluded that Senator John McCain’s running mate, Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska, is not qualified to be vice president, weighing down the Republican ticket in the last days of the campaign, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll.
All told, 59 percent of voters surveyed said that Ms. Palin was not prepared for the job, up 9 percentage points since the beginning of the month. Nearly a third of voters polled said that the vice-presidential selection would be a major factor influencing their vote for president, and those voters broadly favored Senator Barack Obama.
59 percent is not a marginal figure. Nor is the loss of a third of the voters who might perhaps otherwise have voted for McCain. Keep in mind that the chief cheering section that was urging McCain on to pick Palin consisted of people such as conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh and conservative columnist William Kristol. This is the GOP’s harder edged right, the part of the party that sometimes has an attitude that GOP moderates (the few that remain) or those who don’t fit their definition of conservatism can go hang.
But this poll suggests that unless there is an upset come election day, McCain is the one who’ll twist slowly, slowly in the wind as pundits — and some GOPers who don’t belong to the party’s hard-line Limbaugh/Kristol faction — will be blasting him for bungling his first major political and presidential decision as party nominee.
The Times goes on to say this about other parts of this poll (which we quoted in part in an update on the post on a possible election day electoral map below):
After nearly two years of campaigning, a pair of hotly contested nominating battles, a series of debates and an avalanche of ads, the new nationwide poll found the contours of the race taking shape in the last days before the election on Tuesday. Among the findings:
•Mr. Obama is maintaining his lead, with 51 percent of likely voters supporting him and 40 percent supporting Mr. McCain in a head-to-head matchup.
•Some perceptions of race are changing, with a marked increase in the number of people who say they believe that white and black people have an equal chance of getting ahead in America today.
•Mr. McCain’s focus on taxes — including his talk about “Joe the Plumber” — seems to be having some effect, as a growing number of voters now say that Mr. McCain would not raise their taxes. The Arizona Republican has enlisted the help of Samuel J. Wurzelbacher of Ohio, whom he calls Joe the Plumber, since Mr. Obama told him he wanted to “spread the wealth.”
•Eighty-nine percent of people view the economy negatively, and 85 percent think the country is on the wrong track.
•Mr. Obama continues to have a significant advantage on such crucial issues as the economy, health care, and the war in Iraq.
The survey found that opinions of Mr. Obama and Mr. McCain have hardened considerably, as 9 in 10 voters who said that they had settled on a candidate indicated that their minds were made up; a growing number of them called it “extremely important” that their candidate win the election on Tuesday.
The poll suggests that McCain does and has had a chance to change some minds. But it also shows that his selection of Palin has not only made it harder for him to do so, but changed some minds the other way.
Cartoon by Pat Bagley, Salt Lake Tribune