At least Palin's in good company

Former Alaska governor isn't only politician Americans have judged unqualified for the presidency

Published February 12, 2010 10:30PM (EST)

According to a recent ABC News/Washington Post poll,  the percentage of Americans who view Sarah Palin as “unqualified to be president” has skyrocketed.

At the same time, the former Alaska governor's recent antics, including a speech at the Tea Party Convention, have been generating more buzz about a possible presidential run in 2012. To put Palin's prospects in perspective, here’s how she stacks up against other White House hopefuls in terms of the percentage of Americans who judged them unqualified for the Oval Office.

  • Sarah Palin (February 2010): 71 percent
  • Ross Perot (May 1994): 64 percent
  • Dan Quayle (May 1994): 62 percent
  • Jesse Jackson (June 1987): 46 percent
  • Pat Robertson (June 1987): 43 percent

(All numbers are taken from ABC News/Washington Post polls).

Obviously, none of those other candidates got very close to the White House. Jackson, who briefly emerged as a serious threat to Michael Dukakis for a week in March 1988, came the closest.

There is, to be fair, one other former candidate whose numbers were once as bad as Jackson's and Robertson's, though not Palin's. A June 2003 CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll showed that 44 percent of Americans thought then-Sen. Hillary Clinton wasn't qualified to be president. But there's a catch.  Clinton's unqualified number came when she had universal name recognition. Robertson was not nearly as well-known when he registered his unqualified number; it likely would have been Palin-esque if he had been. The same is true to a lesser extent for Jackson, who better known than Robertson in the the spring of 1987.

By Emily Holleman

Emily Holleman is the editor of Open Salon.

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