Palin moving crowds and poll numbers

Jake Turcotte

When it comes to polls and crowds, Sarah Palin knows how to move the numbers.  Added bonus for the McCain team, she's moving the numbers in the right direction.

Polls are up.  Crowds are up. Why?  It appears you can credit the Alaska Governor as McCain's running mate.

Polls are fluid and as we've seen in the last two weeks, they can fluctuate wildly.  They are merely a snapshot.  And the last few snapshots show that people are liking Palin.

It's all tied up

Most polls show the McCain - Obama contest a statistical tie.  That's up from the lead the Obama campaign had last week. Credit the post-convention bounce for McCain.

CNN in their "poll of polls" averages five major surveys to get a read of what's happening.  Specifically, they look at ABC/Washington Post, CBS, Gallup, Diageo/Hotline and their own poll.  They find that the contest is a virtual dead-heat at 48 percent apiece - a three point decline for Obama since Saturday.

 White flight?

So if it is just a tie, why the endless analysis?  The devil's in the details.

And the details of a new Washington Post/ABC News poll show a dramatic shift in the numbers of white women who, before the Democratic Convention, supported Barack Obama but now support John McCain.

"White women have moved from 50-42 percent in Obama's favor before the conventions to 53-41 percent for McCain now, a 20-point shift in the margin that's one of the single biggest post-convention changes in voter preferences," writes ABC's political analyst Gary Langer.  "The other, also to McCain's advantage, is in the battleground Midwest, where he's moved from a 19-point deficit to a 7-point edge."

Obama campaign manager David Plouffe doesn't buy it.

"I don't think you'll find many others that back up a 20-point reversal," Plouffe said at a briefing yesterday. "We certainly are not seeing any movement like that. Polls, time to time, particularly on the demographic stuff, can have some pretty wild swings."

Palin vs. Biden

What if the American public could just vote for the vice president?   A CNN/Opinion Research poll asked this odd question and it shows Palin beating Biden by a 53 percent to 44 percent margin.

Although this can't happen, the results don't contradict new favorability ratings which CNN also compiled.  Palin has a 57 percent to 27 percent favorability rating, while Joe Biden's numbers are 51 percent favorable to 28 percent unfavorable.


Another indicator of "likeability" (and far less scientific) can be in the number of people showing up to an event.  ABC News is reporting that crowd numbers for McCain events have increased substantially since the addition of Palin.

"A typical McCain event before he announced the Alaska governor as his running mate averaged only about 1,000 people," writes ABC's Bret Hovell.  "Now 5,000 has been the low end of turnout in the last few days, and the biggest event last weekend drew about 11,000."


Why the excitement?  GOP strategist Todd Harris says it's because Palin gives the Republican ticket the best of both worlds - a "maverick reformer at the top and a conservative reformer as a running mate."

"If you were looking for experience, we’ve got it," Harris said.  "If you were looking for reformers, we’ve got it. If you were looking for a conservative, we’ve got it.  There is now something for every faction of the party to love and rally around in this ticket. You can see the impact already the polls and in the level of enthusiasm surrounding the campaign."


Nick Shapiro, Obama campaign spokesman, disagrees with Harris.  He says McCain-Palin means more of the same.

"McCain's campaign manager said last week that 'issues don't matter' in this election but Senator Obama believes differently and John McCain gambled that women voters would overlook the fact that McCain Palin are just offering four more years of the same Bush's failed policies," Shapiro said.  "We're not concentrating on national polls because the American people aren't. They're worried about how they're going to provide for their families and which candidate is going to deliver the change we need. That's Barack Obama."

Poll fatigue

Tired of all the polls?  So is the web site  They say all of this analysis is too much and isn't worth it.

"It's stupid reporting or analysis to obsess over each slight shift in the polls (outliers aside, each candidate's individual numbers have barely shifted from the mid-to-high-40s since the beginning of the summer), especially when you predicted those bounces and setbacks."

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