PPP Poll: The Peculiar Partisan Polarization of Joe Paterno

PaternoJoe Paterno remains a politically polarizing figure.

That’s the conclusion of the latest Public Policy Polling (PPP) survey, which found that Paterno still has a 49% favorable rating among Pennsylvanians.

29% have an unfavorable opinion of him while 21% are unsure.

The former Penn State head coach was back in the headlines recently when evidence emerged that Paterno first found out about Jerry Sandusky’s illegal behavior in the 1970’s.

PPP revealed that there is a heavy partisan lense to how one views Paterno.

For instance, among those who give Paterno a positive rating Trump leads Clinton 48% to 34%. On the other hand, among those who have a negative opinion of Paterno, Clinton leads Trump 50% to 33%.

Additionally, Romney voters (60/27) and Republicans (58/26) have a much better view of him than Obama voters (42/34) and Democrats (43/32).

The divide is starkest when you asked a respondent about their ideology.

56% of very conservative Pennsylvanians have a favorable view of Paterno. That drops to 53% for somewhat conservative and moderates, 43% for somewhat liberals and all the way down to 38% for very liberals.

It is not all ideological, however, as there are also large gender and race gaps as well.

Paterno has a plus thirty rating with men, 58-28, alongside a plus twelve rating with women, 42-30.

Meanwhile whites have a mostly positive view, 53% to 28%, while blacks are evenly divided, 31% to 31%.

Public Policy Polling surveyed 1,106 registered voters from June 3rd to 5th. 80% of participants, selected through a list based sample, responded via the phone, while 20% of respondents who did not have landlines conducted the survey over the internet through an opt-in internet panel. The margin of error is +/- 3.0%.

11 Responses

  1. Honestly – this is stupid. Can’t you discuss more relevant issues today – like perhaps the conduct of those in our former Office of Attorney General that caused this shitstorm?

    How about how the media fanned the flames with rumor, gossip and plain old salacious click-bait reporting?

    Speaking of salacious – has anyone seen Frank Fina lately?

  2. Political generalizations like this one are shallow. If you are a Clintonite, you hate Paterno? If you like Trump, Paterno is a hero? Pul=leese!

    Maybe a better survey would be ‘Are you a Penn State fan or have followed Penn State?’ My guess is that the further away people are from knowing about Paterno’s contributions to the university and to generations of students, the less favorably disposed they are to the coach and his legacy.

    Now can we please let him rest in peace?

  3. I don’t think what happened to Joe Paterno was right and I think ESPN and the Mainstream Media put all this stuff out there back in 2011 because they simply “heard a rumor”. So many times we see rumors be put out there and lives and reputations get destroyed without there being anything to it.

    If you look at the timing of when this all came out, it was during a football season where Penn State was in line to go to the Rose Bowl and Joe Paterno had just become the All Time Winningest Coach. This should have been a monumental time for Penn State, instead it turned into a nightmare! The timing of that is very suspect. Joe Paterno was fired before Mr. Sandusky was even put on trial. Paterno was fired because what ESPN and the media put out there made everyone at Penn State very uncomfortable. Paterno wasn’t fired for doing anything wrong, it was just because of the sandstorm that was launched by the media that surrounded the University as a result.

    By all accounts, Mr. Paterno handled everything as you are supposed to in accordance with state law and university policy. To blame him for any of this is entirely inappropriate, and there is no indication that anything happened to warrant reporting in the first place. Mr. Paterno reported a non-event, as he was supposed to do, and a decade later that event was made into something that it wasn’t.

    This whole saga is one of America’s biggest hoaxes. While child exploitation is very real in society, Mr. Sandusky’s charity seemed to be an honest way for many troubled youth to escape difficult lives. If that charity did truly enable abuse, then that needs to be proven and there needs to be undeniable proof. All we have thus far is rumors, bogus reports and Sandusky’s convictions, which were done in a trial where there was no evidence or proof that any crimes occurred. The jury believed that Sandusky was guilty. All they knew was Joe Paterno was fired because of this guy, and that they were told by prosecutors that there were all these victims who were abused. Under those circumstances, it’s not surprising they convicted Sandusky. (but in no way does that prove that his charity enabled abuse, or that Penn State was somehow responsible for any of it)

    The media wanted their whole story to be true, they wanted Sandusky to be a predator, they wanted it to involve Penn State and Joe Paterno so PSU football could be crushed and burned to the ground. It’s a sick and twisted game the media pulled here, and they’ve been proven to have been wrong over and over again as this has been vetted.

    It’s really really sad to see such a great school like Penn State be so negatively affected by something like this to a point where it’s hard to even be proud of Penn State anymore, as it’s changed so much as a result of all this.

    Joe Paterno ran a great program, and did so with the highest academic and athletic standards. Sandusky dedicated his life to helping at risk kids, and now he’s sitting in jail because some gossipy media people at ESPN made up such a big lie about his charity that has done so much good in helping kids.

    I think ESPN and a lot of media people owe the American Public a Huge Apology for doing so much damage to good people at Penn State. They were so hell-bent on trying to defame Joe Paterno. They even tried to erase his wins from the record book! Then to no surprise, they just returned those wins with hardly an explanation!

    I think whoever was involved in orchestrating this whole scandal should have to pay majorly, if not in this life, then in the afterlife by damaging such a highly respected and important American institution like Penn State, by using other real scandals like the Catholic Church and trying to act like Penn State was just like that.

    By making Penn State to be this “kid rape university”, these entities took away something that was truly special in college sports and make it into a joke. It’s not right what happened here. Just because kids got abused in the catholic church or somewhere in the world doesn’t mean that stuff happened at Penn State or in Sandusky’s Charity. I think these people in the media messed up on this really badly, and it’s time for ESPN and this agenda to be called out for what it really is –> a bitter and pathetic attempt to destroy a man’s reputation and a school he built into something deserving of the respect it earned.

    All this stuff quickly led to Joe Paterno’s death, a man who stood for something that is sorely lacking in today’s college sports. He was a man of real integrity, and these sick people in the media turned him into a polarizing figure.

    They pressured the NCAA into sanctioning Penn State, only to have it all be reversed. This is outrageous behavior by the powers that be and media entities like ESPN. They look like fools now.

    When you do something like sanction a school, and then it all gets reversed, that should tell you that something is very very wrong here and there needs to be a much bigger apology than there was that. You need to apologize to everyone at Penn State and everyone in the entire country for making such a big mistake like that. Mark Emmert or anyone at ESPN never did that, in fact they hardly even mentioned when all the sanctions were reversed and the wins got restored!! This is bizarre behavior, to do something like that, then have it blow up in their faces and not even apologize to the American people for putting Penn State through all that? Who do these people think they are? They messed up, they made a mistake by sanctioning Penn State, they messed up, they defamed Joe Paterno, they did that. Joe Paterno did good in life, and he didn’t deserve any of that stuff back in November 2011. He didn’t deserve to die like that. Penn State fans and alumni didn’t deserve to have their university destroyed like that by something like that!

    They’ve made Joe Paterno and his family to be the bad guy here and this was not supposed to happen. Sandusky’s charity helped kids from dire situations have a better life. If kids were abused by Sandusky or anyone else in his charity, then it needs to be proved beyond a reasonable doubt.

    Mr. Sandusky’s numerous convictions off the heels of Paterno’s firing / death in no way validates this incredible media agenda here against Penn State. Paterno’s firing and the interruption of the 2011 football season created a toxic environment for the Penn State community and made it simply impossible for anyone to receive a fair trial under such bizarre circumstances.

    This was a social experiment done to diminish Penn State, by using child exploitation rumors as a freight train that no one could get in front of. Well now that freight train is at the end of it’s line, there’s no more track left, and there’s no more good people like Joe Paterno to run over.

    It’s time that Penn State gets its reputation back and entities like ESPN and the people who put this scandal out there get there comeuppance.

  4. Growing up near St. College throughout the Paterno era, we all got wrapped up in myth. I even attended a couple of Second Mile banquets back in the late 80s early 90s and in hindsight, it is now obvious there was something funky about the way Sandusky constantly had his arm around these kids or hand on their shoulder. I remember the format was always the same. A few name PSU players would attend the dinner and speak, the Sandusky would parade several of the kids up to the podium and do this interview type thing asking them to tell the audience what Second Mile means to them. Were they all victims, probably not, but he probably had the kids practice the interview skit so he could ask them questions and get inside their heads.

  5. “The former Penn State head coach was back in the headlines recently when evidence emerged [alleging] that Paterno first found out about Jerry Sandusky’s illegal behavior in the 1970’s.”

    No wonder people hate him.

    There’s also evidence alleging that the Paternos let their kids swim over at Jerry’s house. But, I guess that would complicate the narrative.

  6. No surprises here. Racists and perverts like Paterno, so also like Trump and other GOP politicians.

  7. It may be recalled that he endorsed RMN; Rs [just as do elephants] have long memories.

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