Thursday, September 11, 2008

Knowing Sarah

The Pew Center folks asked an interesting survey question:

Apart from the WAY news organizations are reporting the story, do you think it is important that voters learn about the details of Sarah Palin's background in order to judge whether she would be a good vice president, or do you think the details of her background are not related to her ability to serve as vice president?

This gets at people's self-judgments as to whether they know enough, and whether it's important for them to know more about the GOPVP nominee's background. In other words, does her background matter?

A lot of people, 70 percent, said it is important to know these kind of details. Twenty-seven percent said it's not important. Three percent of respondents didn't have a clue. As an aside, there's almost an even split on whether people think news orgs have been fair to Palin, no doubt broken down nicely by partisan/ideological lines.

The full report, which is here, includes a fascinating comparison with Dan Quayle from 1988. More people in 2008 (70 percent) think it's important to know this stuff than back then (56 percent). I'm not sure what this means and the report doesn't break the numbers down into categories, but more people thought coverage of Quayle was unfair than of Palin today. This may represent the partisan breakdowns of the time, or that Quayle was at least a U.S. senator and had some experience at the national level. Or maybe it had to do with spelling potato. Impossible to say.

These will be fun data to play with some day, a comparison of the two Veep nominees.

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