Palin's Decline

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
April 11 2011 1:06 PM

Palin's Decline

Steve Kornacki, one of the few political writers who bothers to point out that Incredible Republican Celebrity/Icon/Martyer Sarah Palin is tumbling in 2012 trial heats, tries to explain it .

[E]ven opinion-shaping conservatives -- the folks who had been making excuses for Palin -- woke up, probably because they grasped for the first time how serious her '12 prospects had become...

Conservative voters, it seems, began to get the message: It was OK to like Palin and to believe she was a victim of the left and its allies and to still conclude that she wasn't presidential material. By the end of December, polls began registering a marked uptick in Palin's unfavorable scores, even among Republicans.

David Weigel David Weigel

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

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Well, here's a chart of all polling on Palin from February 2010 -- when she returned to politics as the keynoter at the National Tea Party Convention -- to today.

Palin's favorable number, always low, starts to get truly subterranean in late 2010, which matches the Kornacki timeline -- this was when a popular narrative (one that even made it on Fox News) was that bad choices cost Republicans some seats. The vote count in Alaska's U.S. Senate race dragged on through December, so there were frequent stories about how Palin's candidate, Joe Miller, had been beaten by a write-in candidate.

When does the unfavorable number spike? Right after January 8, 2011 -- the day Jared Loughner went on his shooting spree. Palin was unfairly dragged into that story because Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, shot by Loughner, was on Palin's "target map." (There's no evidence that Loughner cared about this .) But she made the story worse for her by recording a video, right when interest in the Palin/political rhetoric was starting to wane, attacking the media for the "blood libel" it had engaged in. That may have been it for Palin.

One factor Kornacki doesn't quite get into -- the rest of the media. Quite frankly there's only so much time for politics coverage, and so much time for the "freak show" coverage that Palin used to dominate. That time is now being occupied by Donald Trump's journey of birtheristic self-discovery and the not-a-joke Bachmann campaign.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

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