Sarah Palin is receiving a highly partisan reception on the national political stage, with significant public doubts about her readiness to serve as president, yet majority approval of both her selection by John McCain and her willingness to join the Republican ticket.
Given the sharp political divisions she inspires, Palin's initial impact on vote preferences and on views of McCain looks like a wash, and, contrary to some prognostication, she does not draw disproportionate support from women. But she could potentially assist McCain by energizing the GOP base, in which her reviews are overwhelmingly positive.
Half of Americans have a favorable first impression of Palin, 37 percent unfavorable, with the rest undecided. Her positive ratings soar to 85 percent among Republicans, 81 percent among her fellow evangelical white Protestants and 74 percent of conservatives. Just a quarter of Democrats agree, with independents in the middle.
Joe Biden, the Democratic vice presidential nominee, is similarly rated, with slightly fewer unfavorable views and partisanship running in the opposite direction.
IMPACT -- The public by a narrow 6-point margin, 25 percent to 19 percent, says Palin's selection makes them more likely to support McCain, less than the 12-point positive impact of Biden on the Democratic ticket (22 percent more likely to support Barack Obama, 10 percent less so). But majorities in both cases say the vice presidential picks won't matter in their vote, and those who do report an impact chiefly are reflecting their existing partisan predispositions.
Similarly, the public divides by a close 43-38 percent on whether the choice of Palin makes them more confident or less confident in the kind of decisions McCain would make as president -- again along sharply partisan lines. Eighty percent of Republicans say it makes them more confident in McCain; that declines to 44 percent of independents, and 59 percent of Democrats instead say it makes them less confident in him. There's no difference between the sexes.
Six in 10, nonetheless, approve of McCain's selection of Palin, about the customary approval level for past vice presidential picks. That's despite the fact that fewer than half, 42 percent, think Palin has the kind of experience it takes to serve effectively as president if that became necessary. Far more say Biden passes the experience bar, 66 percent.
Men are slightly more apt than women to say Palin's experienced enough for the presidency, 46 percent to 39 percent, with more women unsure about it. Seventy-four percent of Republicans say she's sufficiently experienced; 44 percent of independents and 21 percent of Democrats agree.
Experience, of course, has been a challenge to Obama. In a pre-convention ABC News/Washington Post poll, registered voters divided, 50-47 percent, on whether he does or doesn't have the experience it takes to serve effectively as president.