Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Three Problems With Iowa Poll & Story About Sarah Palin’s Favorability

Des Moines Register.com
Feb 28, 2011 | by Shane Vander Hart

Sarah Palin’s favorability ratings are slipping! Her favorability ratings are slipping! That’s what you hear from The Des Moines Register today in their latest release of the Iowa Poll.

Tom Beaumont reports a drop from 71% to 65% in the last 15 months.

Three problems with this poll and story.

  1. The sample size – 189 people. Not exactly the standard used in scientific polls.
  2. The margin of error of 7.1% +/- since the decline falls within the margin of error.
  3. Josh Painter points out that Beaumont fails to mention the last time this was polled was actually back in June. Her favorability rating then was 58% with a 4.4% +/- margin of error. So her favorability has actually increased by 6 points since June.

Why not report that?

The thrust of Beaumont’s article seems to have more to do with a lack of political activity in Iowa:

However, Palin has done very little to cultivate political good will in a state where face-to-face meetings with influential activists, officials and organizers are common. Palin held no private political meetings during any of her four visits. She met briefly with about 50 influential Republican officials and donors during a reception before the fundraiser she headlined in September, but did not discuss mounting an Iowa campaign.

Some Iowa Republicans have said privately they do not expect Palin to run, considering her low profile in the state.

A reason for the dimmed enthusiasm for Palin could be her national exposure combined with her lack of Iowa activity, Geller said.

“She hasn’t been active in the state. And Iowans have that expectation and a feeling of responsibility to see these people up close,” Geller said. “But it might also be a little Sarah Palin fatigue. They are familiar with her and yet they are not necessarily embracing her. Sixty-five percent is not a very high favorable rating.”

But it isn’t a bad favorability rating either. I agree that if she runs she needs to come to the state, however there are a number of prospective candidates who have not spent much time here.. yet. I also suspect that her favorability rating will go up if she does start campaigning her because she is extremely good at retail politicking.

As far as the “some Iowa Republicans” who have said privately they don’t expect her to run based on fewer visits to Iowa. So what? Frankly I don’t give much credence to people who can’t attach their names to comments made. It seems like political backbiting from people who support other candidates. She may not run, but so far we are off to a slow start. She has made a few visits, but she isn’t camped out here. There has been some outreach done, but not a ton yet. You can’t quite compare her activity to Rick Santorum’s or Tim Pawlenty’s for instance because she does have more name recognition, media exposure, and still has a lot of grassroots support. Her campaign and candidacy will look different, but that doesn’t mean none of the rules apply

I still think she needs to participate in the Iowa Straw Poll and not wait too much longer, but I’m not writing off a candidacy yet. It’s too early especially since no one has formally announced yet.

Anyway putting forth a narrative that her favorability is in decline based on the problems inherit with the poll and story seems to be to be a bunch of spin.


Shane Vander Hart
Shane is the Editor of Caffeinated Thoughts and Caffeinated Theology. Shane has been involved in youth ministry since 1992 in church, para-church, and Christian school settings, and currently works with juvenile offenders in the Des Moines Metro area. He has also been an interim pastor for a local Evangelical Free Church and provides pulpit supply for area churches. Shane has been a member of the Polk County Republican Central Committee since 2006. Shane also serves as the Communications Director for the Preserve Innocence Initiative of American Principles Project. Shane and his family reside in Pleasant Hill. You can connect with Shane on Facebook or follow him on Twitter.

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