Palin Poll

On Sept. 5th, PBS published an opinion poll, simply asking “Do you think that Sarah Palin is qualified to serve as Vice President of the United States?” From Sept 5 to 22 users could vote multiple times by refreshing the page. That is no longer the case. Before they implemented a ‘cookie’ implementation policy, the poll was running close to a tie, 50% said yes, 48% said no. An impressive indication of the power of the right and left to mobilize opinion, as well as the deep division Palin brings to the political process.

John Siceloff, Executive Producer, NOW on PBS, says “The poll has become something of a Rorschach test, a tiny political marker in a tightly contested race. [1]”

A fascinating column from PBS’ Michael Getler on September 19 reveals, to my mind, the lengths some people are willing to go to allow reasonable discussion about the political candidates. An unscripted joke about how Michelle Phillips of the Mamas and the Papas “could be in line for the Presidency!” (because she doesn’t “know anything about economics or foreign policy”) led to a ton of letters from viewers complaining about the “rude and vicious comment regarding Gov. Sarah Palin.” Another letter stated “When he [Mike Ferrell] apologizes about the comment geared toward Gov. Palin, I will donate.”

My reaction: taking it a bit personally are we? Feeling a tad vulnerable? A little unsure? Perhaps because maybe Gov. Palin isn’t the best quality material for the VP role? Common sense says that if you are going to nominate a candidate with little experience, don’t make a big deal about what s/he doesn’t have. I don’t think its smart — and smart IS what I care about the most right now — to choose a candidate because of gender, and I really can’t believe anyone in the RNC chose Palin just for that. Tell me why you did, and we’ll have a nice talk. I may not agree with you in the end, but at least you aren’t treating me like I have some sort of switch that gets flipped when I have the chance to vote for a woman . . . no matter what else is attached to her. I mean, come on, I know there’s a greater than 50% chance that McCain will die in office — my McCain vote is truly a Palin vote.

The complainers about the poll, btw, are clearly attached to the ‘any questions raised about my candidate are attacks’ method of so-called debate. (I’ll have to ask my Ph.D. in Rhetoric mom, but I don’t think this qualifies as a debate.) One person says “The poll regarding the qualifications of Sarah Palin would only be put out by a biased, liberal attack apparatus” (and goes on to say that new Gov. Palin is more qualified than this former constitutional lawyer turned Senator [2]) Another says “I am absolutely disgusted that you, once again, show your blatant liberal bias and ask if Governor Palin is qualified to be Vice President, ignoring the fact that she has more executive experience than all three other nominees.” I find that really interesting, and wonder how McCain would feel if he knew?

I have to go with Getler on this: “In this case, it seems to me to be a reasonable question to ask. Gov. Palin clearly was largely unknown to the vast majority of Americans at the time of the Republican National Convention. [3]”

The poll is at: http://www.pbs.org/now/polls/poll-435.html

[1] http://www.pbs.org/now/palin-poll.html

[2] from barackobama.com

[3] http://www.pbs.org/ombudsman/2008/09/ombudsmans_mailbag_26.html

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