Monday, November 29, 2010

Sen. McCain compares Gov. Palin to 'divisive' Ronald Reagan

That "divisiveness" didn't prevent Reagan from being a two- term president
On "State of the Union," CNN's entry in the gaggle of Sunday morning television talk shows, Candy Crowley asked Sen. John McCain for his comments on his 2008 running mate's recent projects, including the "Sarah Palin's Alaska" series on TLC and current tour of the heartland to promote her second book America By Heart:
"She's keeping her options open, and I think she should," the Republican senator from Arizona said on "She's an incredible force in the American political arena."

When Crowley interrupted to ask if Palin was "divisive," the senator chuckled.
"A guy named Ronald Reagan used to be viewed as divisive," said McCain...

At the left wing Washington Post, Aaron Blake and Felicia Sonmez opine that the comparison is a valid one, as they point out that during his presidency, Reagan's average approval rating was 53 percent:
As for the operative word here -- "divisiveness" -- Reagan had a claim to it. Many more Republicans approved of him than Democrats, and even at his peak, just 68 percent of Americans approved of him, a number lower than everyone but Richard Nixon over the last 65 years.

The reason Reagan couldn't get higher than that was because there was a segment of the population, about one-third, that was dead-set against him. Reagan is often listed in polls of people's favorite presidents, but because of that one-third, he's also among the leaders for people's least favorite presidents. His detractors often feel just as strongly as his supporters about Reagan's legacy.

Recent polling shows Palin is on par with all of that.
What Blake and Sonmez fail to mention, however, is that in his day, the liberal media portrayed Reagan in the worst possible light, making the press a party to driving his poll numbers down. The two also chose not to mention that despite this perceived "divisiveness," Ronald Reagan easily won the 1980 election, beating sitting President Jimmy Carter by 440 electoral college votes and carrying 44 states to Carter's 6 plus the District of Columbia. The Gipper's reelection in 1984 was even more lopsided, as his opponent, liberal Walter Mondale, managed to carry only his home state of Minnesota. Reagan won the rest, as his 525 electoral votes set a record for the highest total ever received by a presidential candidate, and he crushed Mondale in the popular vote by more than 18 percentage points.

Not too shabby for a "divisive" conservative Republican who had the press working against him.

- JP

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