Wow. This newish poll, called "Every Woman Counts", by Lifetime, asks women about their opinions on the two presidential candidates and their running mates. Picking Sarah Palin helped McCain among women:
Understanding Women and What is Most Important to Them: In Lifetime's late July Every Woman Counts poll, Barack Obama handily beat John McCain 52% to 18% with 11% volunteering "neither" to this question. Just six weeks later, and with the addition of Sarah Palin to the Republican ticket, McCain/Palin has dramatically reversed those fortunes, now in a virtual tie with Obama/Biden, 44%-42%.
What's really interesting about that quote is the July results. Note how the Democrats can put up a guy against a Republican guy and still lead by 30 points in how well the campaigns understand women's issues. If I was a Republican strategist I'd do some very serious self-analysis there, though of course all Republican strategists now think that the trick is just to put a really fundie chick on the ticket as the vice.
There is a different reading of the impact Palin has had, and that's the reading many feminists avoided making during the primaries: Appearances do matter.
That's not meant to imply that any woman, however inexperienced and unskilled is OK to nominate because then all stupid women will rush to vote for any old sexist. That's not the kind of appearances I'm talking about, but the other kind, the kind which points out that there has never been a female vice president in this country, that very few faces in the positions of power look like the faces women see in their mirrors early in the morning while harriedly combing their hair right before taking the kids to daycare or school before dashing off to that dead-end pink-collar job. For women like this Palin is a breath of fresh air.
Of course most of them don't know what Palin really stands for, that she wouldn't allow abortion even in the case of rape, that she's really all fundie and no feminism, that she would not help the lives of those women at that mirror to become easier at all, rather the reverse, what with the Supreme Court appointments she might make if McCain was elected and then died or became incapacitated. But she looks a little like lots of women in this country, and that does matter, you know, on a deeply psychological level. It's hard not to think that someone like that would not see things the way you do, that she wouldn't be fighting for you. She wouldn't, of course, alas.