I heard McCain say that Sarah Palin is the most popular governor in the nation on 60 minutes. So I got on the internet to check this out. She has an 88% approval rate which is almost unheard of for governors. If you look at the 50 governors ranked by popularity in 2005, the highest one, the governor of North Dakota, only has 74%. Seventies is very high – eighties are impossibly high. 88% is like batting .400 in baseball. It is difficult for a governor to get 88% of everybody to like you at any one time. It is probably impossible to get 88% of the people to like you all of time. John F. Kennedy, our most popular president, averaged a 77% approval.
She also knocked off the incumbant governor in the Republican Primary – a stunt that is historically rare in American politics. Especially considering she has “no experience”!
Somebody said in a letter to the editor in the Philadelphia Inquirer that “she was no Ronald Reagan”. I am not sure about that (she is probably very much like Ronald Reagan, whether this is bad or good is the debate), so I wanted to find Ronald Reagan’s popularity numbers as governor of California. I couldn’t find that but I found this. Pat Brown, the father of Jerry Brown, was the current governor of California in 1966. His competition was Ronald Reagan, who had never held political office:
Brown badly underestimated Reagan’s appeal. He lumped the Republican nominee in with the far-right John Birch Society, though the first-time candidate took great effort to distance himself. And the governor taunted Reagan as a middling actor unready to take the reigns of state government. His most unfortunate moment came during a 30-minute promotional film, when he joked with school children, “And I want to tell you something else. You know I’m running against an actor. Remember this: you know who shot Abraham Lincoln, don’t ya?”
The joke backfired badly on the governor, by making him look mean and condescending. Several actors who had supported his candidacy abandoned him. Brown lost to Reagan by almost a million votes.
Don’t underestimate Sarah Palin!