Wednesday, May 06, 2009
New Hays Poll Shows Governor Sarah Palin's Approval Rating Skidding To Historic Low Of 54 Percent, While Senator Lisa Murkowski Rises To 76 Percent
The results of a new Hays Research Poll have been posted on the Anchorage Daily News' Alaska Politics blog (though not on the Hays website yet), and they show that Alaska Governor Sarah Palin's approval rating has slid to the lowest point of her Administration so far.
The poll of 400 Alaskans paid for by Hays Research and conducted during May 4-5, with a margin of error of 4.9 percent, shows that Governor Palin now has an overall positive rating of 54 percent and an overall negative rating of 41.6 percent. Most significantly, 24.8 percent of respondents rated her as Very Negative, while 30.5 percent rated her as Very Positive. Thus Governor Palin continues to inspire a strong passionate and emotional response on both sides of the proverbial "aisle"; not many elected officials inspire that type of passion.
The previous Hays poll, taken during March 24-25, showed Governor Palin’s overall positive ratings at 59.8 percent and negatives at 34.9 percent at that time. Once again, a plurality of responses were either Very Positive or Very Negative. So her approval rating has skidded nearly six percentage points in only six weeks, not a good sign. And it's a long way down from her stratospheric 86 percent positive and 9 percent negative Hays reported in a poll almost exactly a year ago.
No single "catastrophic" event seems to be responsible. Instead, it's the cumulative effect of a series of relatively minor setbacks - almost a "death by a thousand cuts" if you will, which are eroding Palin's support. These include:
-- Continued spamming of the Governor with so-called "ethics complaints" for the purposes of political warfare.
-- The seemingly-endless and pointless television feud between Levi Johnston and Bristol Palin.
-- The unsuccessful nomination of Wayne Anthony Ross as Attorney General.
-- The Alaska Senate Democrats deliberately sandbagging and protracting the process of filling the vacancy in Senate District B simply to get back at Palin.
Each of these actions weakened the Governor's support within different constituencies, contributing to the overall decline in approval.
In her analysis posted on the Huffington Post, KBYR 700AM progressive talk show host Shannyn Moore, whose show airs 5-7 P.M. every Saturday, also cites Governor Palin's reluctance to accept Federal stimulus funds as a possible factor in the decline of Governor Palin's popularity. But while this may have been a factor at one time, it has been since superseded by the fact that the Governor has now decided to accept all but $29 million of the $930 million in Federal stimulus funds available to the state.
Since this post, conservative talk show host Dan Fagan has posted his analysis on The Alaska Standard. Fagan believes that part of the reason for Palin's declining popularity was her decision to appoint Judge Morgen Christen, a former Planned Parenthood board member, to the Alaska Supreme Court. While this decision originally alarmed the Alaska Family Council, it was soon revealed that Christen left Planned Parenthood before they actually started performing abortions in Alaska, thus allaying the concerns of social conservatives. In addition, Fagan suggests that Governor Palin is also battling the growing perception among Alaskans that she is more concerned about her presidential ambitions than governing the state, but I also consider this to be inconsequential. Conservatives4Palin have over-reacted to Fagan's analysis; I actually consider it one of the most fair and balanced assessments of Palin that he's ever written.
The Hays poll also measured Senator Lisa Murkowski's support, and shows that her popularity has increased from 72 percent to 76 percent during the six week period. However, unlike Palin, Murkowski doesn't trigger as strong of an emotional response; very few respondents are either Very Positive or Very Negative. Supporters of Senator Murkowski respect her much more than they actually like her; they view her as being quietly competent, efficient, and professional.
Governor Palin is a long way from being in any serious political trouble. She still has a strong and vocal core constituency. But she needs to slow or even halt the decline in her approval rating, or else it will take on a life of its own. In particular, the Governor needs to let her hired guns be the hired guns and not try to be a hired gun herself. She also needs to figure out how to put a leash and a muzzle on both Bristol and Levi; these two are becoming an embarrassment to themselves and the state. It's time for those two to quit playing celebrity and get back to being parents.