Bristol Palin’s Footwork: A Political Pas de Deux?

Nov 22, 2010 9:42pm

Not that she has two right feet, but most Americans nonetheless suspect a little conservative tango in Bristol Palin’s ascent to the heights of “Dancing with the Stars.”

Just 14 percent in this ABC News/Washington Post poll believe Ms. Palin made the program’s finals by dint of her dancing ability. Fifty-four percent instead suspect that her advance has relied on large-scale backing, in phone, text and e-mail votes, from supporters of her almost equally famous mother, Sarah Palin.

That’s a foot-stamping 4-1 margin. And of those who think Bristol’s mom played a role, 68 percent also say that’s not a good enough reason for her to be a finalist.

Some of this could reflect partisan bickering – Chelsea Clinton could’ve competed, if she hadn’t been so busy with the wedding – and indeed there are some political differences in the results. Nonetheless there’s also general agreement – even conservatives, by 2-1, and Republicans, by an even wider margin, think Bristol Palin twirled to the finals on the basis of her mother’s network.

Among the groups most enamored of her footwork, 21 percent of conservatives call Bristol one of the best dancers on the program, as do 20 percent of Republicans and 18 percent of men. Just 11 percent of women and 9 percent of Democrats agree. Nonetheless, bloc voting by Sarah Palin’s supporters is suspected by 45 percent of conservatives, 48 percent of men and 49 percent of Republicans, rising to 59 percent of women and 66 percent of Democrats.

For all this, there are plenty of people willing to forgo the debate: Asked whether Bristol’s dancing or her mother’s supporters lifted her to the finals, a considerable 26 percent were happy to duck the question and say they simply don’t know. For them, apparently, there are mysteries worth keeping, including how to succeed on Dancing with the Stars.

Late-night update: For her part, Bristol Palin, backstage at "Dancing with the Stars" on Monday night, took issue with the perceptions found in this poll. "I don't think the millions of viewers that are out there voting are all Republicans or all part of the Tea Party," she told ABC's Chris Connelly. "I think that Democrats are voting for us, and I think that they see this journey that I've gone through. They see me have no dance experience at all. And they see me putting myself out there having a good time. So I don't think it's that at all."

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