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Sarah Palin, John Edwards slide in polls, Gallup says

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Sarah Palin and John Edwards, two of America’s best-known politicians, have both seen their favorability ratings slide in recent months, a new Gallup poll shows.

Mr. Edwards, a former Democratic presidential candidate, has suffered by far the biggest slide – the steepest descent Gallup has ever recorded for a prominent public figure. When Americans were polled about him in January 2008, 48 percent had a favorable view and 37 percent an unfavorable view. This month, Edwards’ favorability rating was only 21 percent, and his unfavorability rating had soared to 59 percent, Gallup found.

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Edwards' record decline

The plunge followed Edwards’ admission that he had an extramarital affair during his 2008 presidential campaign and made illegal payments to his mistress.

Sarah Palin’s favorability rating has also slid, but not to the Edwards level. She had a 53 percent favorability rating immediately after the 2008 Republican convention, writes Gallup’s Jeffrey Jones. By the campaign's end, Ms. Palin’s favorability rating had dropped to 42 percent. Her current 40 percent rating “is the lowest for her since she became widely known after last year’s Republican convention,” Mr. Jones says. In July, Palin resigned as governor of Alaska with 18 months left in her term.

Partisan divide on Palin

Palin’s favorability rating varies widely by party. Democrats have an overwhelmingly negative option, with 72 percent viewing her unfavorably and only 14 percent favorably. Among Republicans, on the other hand, 69 percent have a favorable view and 25 percent an unfavorable one.

Because independents play a key role in elections, Palin needs to worry that those not affiliated with a party view her more negatively than positively. Among independents, 41 percent view Palin positively, 48 percent negatively.

The results come from a telephone survey of 1,013 adults conducted Oct. 1-4. The survey had a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.

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Runner-up: Jesse Jackson

While Edwards now holds the record for the steepest decline in standing with the public, others have suffered similar fates, Gallup says. The Rev. Jesse Jackson is the runner-up. His favorability rating dropped 24 percentage points from 1999 to 2000. His decline was the result of the disappearance of a bounce his ratings received after his successful diplomatic mission to Yugoslavia and Sierra Leone in the spring of 1999.

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