Daily Tracking Poll: Disfavor With Palin Grows; Economy Keeps Boosting Obama

Beleaguered by Saksgate as well as broad doubts about her qualifications, Sarah Palin is now rated unfavorably by just more than half of likely voters, capping her dramatic rise in unpopularity as the presidential campaign has progressed.

Other measures continue to help the Democrats as well: As the economic crisis has deepened, Barack Obama has maintained his lead in trust to handle the economy, now 17 points, as well as an 18-point advantage in better understanding voters' problems.

And strong enthusiasm among his supporters is at a new high: 70 percent, nearly double John McCain's, and well above that of any of the presidential candidates in 2000 or 2004.

Click here for PDF with charts and questionnaire.

Likely voters overall divide by 53-44 percent, Obama-McCain respectively, in this latest ABC News/Washington Post tracking poll.

Obama holds a seven-point edge among independents and very large leads among black and Hispanic voters counter his 8-point deficit among whites -- itself just below the average for a Democratic presidential candidate in exit polls since 1976.

Fifty-one percent of likely voters continue to call the economy the single top issue in their vote, vastly No. 1, and those voters favor Obama by 62-35 percent.

It makes the difference: Those who pick all other issues combined favor McCain, 54-43 percent.

Among whites who cite the economy as their top issue, moreover, it's a slight 51-45 percent edge for Obama versus McCain. Among whites who're more concerned with all other issues combined, by contrast, McCain leads by a wide 60-37 percent.

Palin Unpopularity Grows

Gov. Palin's been dogged by difficulties, including the Oct. 10 finding that she abused her power as governor in seeking the dismissal of an Alaska state trooper and the controversy this week over the Republican National Committee spending $150,000 on clothes for her and her family.

Palin said the wardrobe controversy was fueled by gender bias.

However, her overall favorability rating -- the most basic measure of a public figure's popularity -- has fallen more steeply among women, by 17 points, and among white women, by 21 points, than it has among men, an eight-point drop.

Sarah Palin's Unpopularity Grows in Wake of Controversy

At her peak, after the Republican convention, 59 percent of likely voters held an overall favorable opinion of Palin.

Now that's down to 46 percent, while 51 percent see her unfavorably. Majority disfavor is danger for any public figure; so is its intensity -- and an unusually large 40 percent have a "strongly" unfavorable opinion of Palin.

Men now divide about evenly on Palin, 51-46 percent favorable-unfavorable, down from 59-24 percent Sept. 7. Women, though, have gone from 58-33 percent then to 41-56 percent now, currently viewing her unfavorably by a 15-point margin.

Another group in which Palin's rating has fallen especially steeply is among mainline or nonevangelical white Protestants -- a 24-point drop, from 70 percent favorable in early September to 46 percent today.

This is the same usually pro-Republican group that has moved toward Obama, now supporting him by a 10-point margin, enough to counteract his shortfall among usually swing-voting white Catholics.

Palin's also lost ground on her main stake, the common touch -- a 10-point drop in the number who believe she "understands the problems of people like you." (Again, the decline has occurred disproportionately among women.)

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