While the main advantage of adding Sarah Palin to the Republican ticket has been to energize the right wing base, there was initially speculation that Palin might help McCain get the support of women voters who were upset that Hillary Clinton did not make the Democratic ticket. Polls now show both that Palin has wound up hurting McCain and that there are not many PUMA’s left as Obama has consolidated support among both Democrats and independents:
While the choice of Sarah Palin initially helped give McCain a dead cat bounce in the polls, the choice is now hurting him. The New York Times summarizes their poll results:
Mrs. Palin’s negatives are up, to 41 percent now from 29 percent in September. Mr. Obama’s favorability is the highest for a presidential candidate running for a first term in the last 28 years of Times/CBS polls. Mrs. Palin’s negative rating is the highest for a vice-presidential candidate as measured by The Times and CBS News. Even Dan Quayle, with whom Mrs. Palin is often compared because of her age and inexperience on the national scene, was not viewed as negatively in the 1988 campaign.
McCain’s running mate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, has become a drag on the GOP ticket: 52 percent of voters said McCain’s selection of her makes them doubt the types of decisions he would make as president, a reversal from a Post-ABC poll following the nominating conventions.
The Pew Research Center also found that Palin has been hurting McCain:
In addition, Sarah Palin appears to be a continuing – if not an increasing – drag on the GOP ticket. Currently, 49% of voters express an unfavorable opinion of Palin, while 44% have a favorable view. In mid-September, favorable opinions of Palin outnumbered negative ones by 54% to 32%. Women, especially women under age 50, have become increasingly critical of Palin: 60% now express an unfavorable view of Palin, up from 36% in mid-September. Notably, opinions of Palin have a greater impact on voting intentions than do opinions of Joe Biden, Obama’s running mate.
Overall, Obama leads McCain 53 percent to 39 percent among those most likely to vote.
While McCain had hoped that he might win thanks to Democratic defections, it now looks like Obama is doing a better job than McCain of solidifying support in his party. Nate Silver looks at several polls and finds:
Among Democrats, Barack Obama is now winning 88 percent support, comparable to John Kerry in 2004 or Al Gore in 2000. And there are a couple of points’ worth of undecideds left in there, so it’s possible that Obama could scrape up against the 90 percent number on election day.
By contrast, John McCain is winning the support of just 85.3 percent of Republicans, well down from Bush’s 93 percent in 2004 and 91 percent in 2000. There are some undecideds in there as well, so his numbers should improve some, but McCain is likely to underperform Bush by several points.
We averaged the party ID for several national polls over the last several months and found that on average 36% of registered voters claim to be Democrats while only 28% say they align with the Republican party. We conduct dozens of national polls each year and, while our numbers have varied 2-4 points from the above, they have consistently showed a 6-9 point advantage for Democrats. Obama has also closed the long-standing partisan vote gap. National tracking polls show both candidates holding 85-87% of their party’s vote, where in recent years Republicans have enjoyed a 3-5 point advantage. Combine the two, and this is a very difficult hurdle for McCain to overcome. He will need to win independents by at least 15 – 20 points to overcome the party ID deficit. [Emphasis added.]
While McCain needs to win big among independents, Andrew Sullivan points out, “no group has responded more negatively to McCain these past seven weeks than independents. McCain’s unfavorables among independents have soared from 24 percent to 44 percent in seven weeks.” The Pew Research Center poll I noted above finds that Obama leads by 51 percent to 33 percent among independents.