The XX Factor

Cue the Palin Attack Ads?

In September, Slate ’s John Dickerson wondered whether the Palin effect (as seen in, for instance, Joe Miller’s surprise Alaskan primary victory) would carry over to the general election and help her candidates of choice beat out Democrats and win over independents. Democrats are starting to bet that it won’t: In a poll released today, Palin’s favorability rating has dipped to just 22 percent , with nearly half of those polled holding an unfavorable opinion of her. In California, where Carly Fiorina has trumpeted her Palin endorsement, polls are starting to show that it’s actually doing her damage: According to Politico , “Fifty-three percent of those surveyed said they would be less inclined to vote for a candidate endorsed by Palin, while only 21 percent said they would be more inclined. ” In New Mexico’s gubernatorial campaign, Democrat Diane Denish,  fewer than 10 points behind Palin-endorsed Susana Martinez in the polls, is reportedly mulling attack ads using Palin’s image. And in Pennsylvania’s Senate race , Democrat Joe Sestak just released an ad tarring his opponent Pat Toomey as just as right-wing as Palin. Up until now, he’s mostly tried to nick Toomey for his Wall Street ties . (Toomey’s raved about Palin, but she hasn’t endorsed him .) Surely there are more attack ads to come, and I’m curious to see what they’ll look like. Is she a potent enough symbol on her own that just her name and image next to that of the candidate in question will be damning enough for Palin-haters, or will more explanation be required?

Photograph of Sarah Palin by Getty Images.