Palin Power: Fresh Face Now More Popular Than Obama, McCain

rasmussenreports.com; September 5, 2008

A week ago, most Americans had never heard of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin. Now, following a Vice Presidential acceptance speech viewed live by more than 40 million people, Palin is viewed favorably by 58% of American voters. The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 37% hold an unfavorable view of the self-described hockey mom.

The figures include 40% with a Very Favorable opinion of Palin and 18% with a Very Unfavorable view. Before her acceptance speech, Palin was viewed favorably by 52%. A week ago, 67% had never heard of her.

The new data also shows significant increases in the number who say McCain made the right choice and the number who say Palin is ready to be President. Generally, John McCain’s choice of Palin earns slightly better reviews than Barack Obama‘s choice of Joe Biden.

Perhaps most stunning is the fact that Palin’s favorable ratings are now a point higher than either man at the top of the Presidential tickets this year. As of Friday morning, Obama and McCain are each viewed favorably by 57% of voters. Biden is viewed favorably by 48%.

There is a strong partisan gap when it comes to perceptions of Palin. Eighty-nine percent (89%) of Republicans give her favorable reviews along with 33% of Democrats and 59% of voters not affiliated with either major party.

She earns positive reviews from 65% of men and 52% of women. The Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll shows that Obama continues to lead McCain among women voters while McCain leads among men. The Friday morning update, the first to include interviews conducted after Palin’s speech–showed the beginning of a Republican convention bounce that may match Obama’s bounce from last week.

Fifty-one percent (51%) of Americans believe that most reporters are trying to hurt Palin’s campaign, a fact that may enhance her own ratings.

The Palin pick has also improved perceptions of John McCain. A week ago, just before he introduced his running mate, just 42% of Republicans had a Very Favorable opinion of their party’s nominee. That figure jumped to 54% by this Friday morning. Among unaffiliated voters, favorable opinions of McCain have increased by eleven percentage points in a week from 54% before the Palin announcement to 65% today.

Fifty-one percent (51%) of all voters now believe that McCain made the right choice when he picked Palin to be his running mate while 32% disagree. By way of comparison, on the night after Biden gave his acceptance speech, 47% said that Obama made the right choice.

Eighty-one percent (81%) of Republicans say that McCain made the right choice while just 69% of Democrats said the same about Obama.

Among unaffiliated voters, 52% said that McCain made the right choice for his running mate and 45% said the same about Obama.

Forty percent (40%) now say that Palin is ready to be President, if necessary. That’s up from 29% last week. Forty-nine percent (49%) say the same about Biden.

However, following the Wednesday night speech, voters are fairly evenly divided as to whether Palin or Obama has the better experience to be President. Forty-four percent (44%) of voters say Palin has the better experience while 48% say Obama has the edge. Among unaffiliated voters, 45% say Obama has better experience while 42% say Palin.

Fifty-eight percent (58%) of voters say that Palin’s speech helped McCain’s chances of becoming President while only 10% believe it hurt those prospects.

While Palin’s numbers are stunning today, it remains to be seen how the Alaska Governor’s numbers will hold up through the next two months. She has made a tremendous first impression, but the country will get to know her a lot better between now and November.

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This national survey of 1,000 Likely Voters was conducted by Rasmussen Reports September 4, 2008. The margin of sampling error for each survey is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence.

Rasmussen Reports is an electronic publishing firm specializing in the collection, publication, and distribution of public opinion polling information.

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