The new CBS News poll released yesterday updates us on two topics -- Sarah Palin and the economy's impact on Obama's approval rating -- covered here in recent days.
First, the new survey includes an update on an economic question that closely tracks a new question (that I charted in yesterday's column) about perceptions of economic news tracked this year by the Pew Research Center's News Index surveys. CBS regularly asks Americans if they "think the economy is getting better, getting worse, or staying about the same." The trend in "getting worse" on the CBS surveys neatly parallels the trend in "hearing mostly bad news" about the economy on the Pew surveys. Both indicate that increasingly negative perceptions of the economy over the last two months.
CBS has also tracked a drop in Obama's approval rating -- from 63% in June to 57% on this week's survey -- that they attribute to the economy:
The driving issue behind the President's decline in approval appears to be the economy. Now 48% of Americans approve of how he's handling the economy while 44% disapprove, when just last month Americans approved of his handling of this issue by a margin of 22 points. This drop is most dramatic among Democrats. 66% of Democrats now approve of his handling of the economy, down 21 points from last month.
On Palin, the CBS survey shows a greater impact on ratings of the soon-to-be-former Governor than the PPP survey we discussed last week. First, the CBS rating shows a significant drop in her favorable rating:
Today, only 23% of Americans (and 26% of registered voters) hold a favorable view of Sarah Palin. More - 37% - view her unfavorably. Just prior to the November presidential election, registered voters' opinions were divided. Now, a sizable number of them (36%) are undecided or say they haven't heard enough about her - a higher number than last fall.
Republicans (38%), conservatives (38%) and white evangelicals (35%) hold positive ratings of Governor Palin. 56% of Democrats view her unfavorably. One striking finding -- 45% of Republicans say they are are undecided or haven't heard enough about Palin to offer an opinion, compared to just 31% of Democrats.
Note that the favorable percentages tend to be lower on the CBS polls than other surveys because the CBS question offers respondents the option of saying they are "undecided" or "haven't yet heard enough...to have an opinion.
The bigger problem, on this survey at least, is in perceptions of her "ability to be an effective President." Last week, we tried to compare a new question from PPP about Palin's "fitness" for the presidency to prior questions asked by other pollsters about whether Palin is "qualified" or "prepared" to be president. The new CBS survey is the first new national survey to update a question about Palin's readiness they had asked last year: "Do you think Sarah Palin would have the ability to be an effective President?"
Whether Sarah Palin runs in 2012 or not, right now most Americans do not think she would have the ability to be an effective president. Majorities of Republicans, Democrats and independents say this. In the fall of 2008, a majority of voters did not think Palin could be an effective president, if that was necessary - but more then - 37% - thought she could. The change is even more striking among Republicans. Last fall 71% of Republican registered voters thought she could be an effective president if that became necessary. Now just 33% think she has that ability.
Chris Cillizza argues that these results encapsulate the problem Palin now faces:
That just one-third of self-identifying Republicans -- her most loyal constituency -- believe that Palin could be effective as president speaks to the stature gap from which she currently suffers. Even those who like (or even love her) a majority believe she would not be effective as commander-in-chief.
To be taken seriously as a national figure and as a potential candidate in 2012, Palin needs to reverse those numbers.
PS: We have just added a Pollster.com chart that tracks Sarah Pain's favorable rating as measured by all national public polls. Keep in mind that for the moment, only two national surveys have measured Palin's favorability since her resignation announcement.