Early polling data shows that the gendered reaction to John McCain choosing Sarah Palin is exactly the opposite of what pundits and presumably John McCain thought it would be. The wonderful FiveThirtyEight website has the information here. Basically, men are more positive about Palin while women are reacting more negatively:
[The poll shows that m]en have a favorable imperssion of Palin by a 35-point margin, whereas women have a favorable impression of her by an 18-point margin. Conversely, by a 23-point margin, women do not think Palin is ready to be President, whereas Palin lost this question among men by a considerably smaller 6-point magrin.
There are all sorts of possible explanations here, including the one offered up by Nate Silver at the link above – that men tend to be more conservative than women, and Palin’s staunch conservative ideology is more appealing to them. But, I think other factors could be playing out here, including a feeling by many women that McCain has insulted their intelligence by trying to pick off their loyalty based solely on sharing internal plumbing with this Alaskan right-wing ideologue. I’d be remiss if I didn’t also mention a suspicion that many (heterosexual) men are feeling positive toward her because they are attracted to her. I could be wrong, but I wouldn’t be surprised.
- David S. Cohen