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Newsweek Poll: Is Princess Kate's Star Truly Fading?

Friday, October 10, 2014

I know the (semi)-recent Newsweek poll results caused quite the hubbub. Kate fans were a little taken aback, Kate-Haters were gleefully circulating the information and metaphorically thrusting it in people's faces. It was all extremely...tedious.

Let me tell you about polls. Polls are always weighted toward the preferred result of the person paying to have the poll conducted. This is absolute, gospel truth. Always. The magnitude of the bias depends on what the topic is and what is at stake. Which is why the political cognoscenti know the few polls that actual pride themselves on never being wrong (and so staunchly remain relatively unbiased) and also why campaigns themselves do internal polling, so they can see the cold hard reality, whichever way the wind is blowing. Before an election there are often significant spreads between polls, but about a month out, and decreasing as the weeks trip closer, the polls all suddenly start to get a lot more realistic. The reason is because the pollsters have to tighten up those biases so they aren't left looking like idiots when the real results come in.

There are a lot of reasons polls are biased. About as many reasons as people have motives. In politics, polls are slanted by whomever pays for them, to subtly shift public opinion. We are social creatures and people like to be in the "it" crowd. Displaying significant opposition or support for one candidate or another can help to shift a tight race by framing the election early as a hopeless cause in one direction or the other, and demoralizing your opposition.

In the end, though, only one thing counts, there is only one "poll" that has the final say: the votes. On election day, the only thing that matters is who gets out of bed and takes the time to swing by their polling station. That's the only reality that matters. Additionally, polls themselves can be interpreted to suggest all manner of things that a dispassionate observer could see were not even moderately present in the actual data. Let's look at the results. Newsweek reports:
Astonishingly, only 1% of female respondents wish that they could be Kate. A staggering 89% of women have no interest in being Kate even for a single day. Meanwhile, among male respondents, only 6% wish they were married to Kate and – even more surprising, perhaps, – only 6% wish they were dating Kate.
There are a lot of adjectives here that suggest negativity, but in fact, none of this is astonishing. Many of the women who read this blog (and are huge fans) have declared they would not trade places with Kate. People who understand what her lifestyle entails often find the prospect of enduring the same public scrutiny, daunting, at best.  As to the boys, I cannot for the life of me understand why this is shocking. The only men I have ever known--in my entire life--who have even been conversational on Kate beyond being able to say she was the pretty girl who married that prince, were men who had to know about her because of my rather intense interest. Furthermore, unlike, say, Megan Fox, I would find it rather odd for a man to want to date Kate. She isn't a Hollywood starlet projected as a sex-symbol. She is a woman who has been in a pretty monogamous relationship for over ten years, married three of those, with a child and pregnant with a second. I don't know, I am not a man, but don't you think that would be a little weird? Conversely, while I like William very much and think he cuts a fine figure in a sharp suit, I don't think I can say I have ever wanted to either be married to him or to date him. Phew. Let's move on...
“Which of the following things, if any, are you interested in regarding Kate?”, the following answers, among others, came back: her views on parenthood – 13%; her clothes – 6%; her make-up – 1%.
Again, sounds striking at first, but then one is left lightly perplexed. Anyone who knows me can attest I am not entirely a math whizz, but even the most cursory of casual glances leaves the mathematically challenged of us feeling we haven't quite a 100% quorum here. 13 and 6 makes 19 and one more equals 20, so...what is the 80% that women do care about? Obviously, there were other answers and it would be nice to see those, since Newsweek only reported answers with very low interest levels. Or, as the paragraph could be meaning to suggest, a possible answer was "I am not interested in regarding anything about Kate"! If the majority voted none, is it not even more possible that the they didn't poll a very relevant sampling of people? The fact is, plenty of people know little about Kate beyond she is a royal. All sorts of people have no interest in her at all, and I am the first to admit this. It's a big world and there is more than enough room for massively popular people of whom similarly massive segments of society know little and care even less. If, indeed, the polling sample was comprised primarily of people who never cared in the first place, I would argue, and reasonably, too, that this casts a different shade on the breaking news that Kate's popularity is shrinking. How can one's popularity shrink with a group of people who never held you in high esteem to begin with?! 
By chance, the survey was conducted on the day of the announcement of the Duchess’s pregnancy. And yet when asked which of that day’s news stories they were most interested in, the public rated the news of a second royal baby fourth – only 7% being “most interested”. This figure rose among 18- to 24-year-olds, but only to 9%. Ahead came the Scottish referendum, then Isis and the Ebola outbreak.
Again...misleading, much? If you were asked any day of the week what was more important, the royal baby or the future of your nation; a royal baby or the spread of a deadly virus; the royal baby or the shocking abuse of men, women and children: beheadings, rapes, and mutilation at the hands of ISIS, what would you answer? Gosh. I hope it is not the royal baby... Is the supposition that fans of Kate are also entirely disconnected with no sense of balance or the broader picture?

I am not going to march through every line item here. I would get bored, you would most definitely be bored. The point I am trying to illustrate is that a poll is a useful tool, you can learn a lot from a poll, you can get a sense of many things--but sometimes what you learn is more about the poll than the actual topic. They are taken, they are framed as they were in this article, and a conclusion is drawn that you are meant to assent to because they have just thrown a lot of numbers and facts at you. Let's return to the political analogy.

When you are handed poll results, you have to sort through all the accidental elements, straight to the heart of the matter. A poll is a supposition, a semi-scientific bet. The question posed to you as the campaign manager is...what is the reality? Who is going to be right on game-day? Kate is my candidate. The polls say Kate's star is fading, but I have not noticed the public backing up that claim. What the poll says isn't relevant, I want to know, is Kate selling? Are the crowds still frenzied, are the fans screaming, are the front covers stacking up, are the dresses selling out, is the Duchess trending on Twitter? Kate's election day is everyday the public is interacting with her, and everywhere revenue is being generated based on her popularity. You can poll anyway you want, those numbers don't lie. Just like election night, the numbers will decide the game.

If Kate were my candidate and I was handed these poll results I would wonder a few things. Looking at it the way you have to look at any poll, who paid for it? Newsweek Europe. I already know the likelihood of a bias of some kind is essentially guaranteed, so why the bias? I have theories, but do they matter? Not really. In the end I don't care, because it doesn't matter.

You are reading this blog post right this second, you and thousands of others all over the globe. At the end of the day, Kate is selling, in big big way. People magazine just released their top 10 cover celebrities, which is a bit of a status symbol. Diana, the most famous woman on earth in her lifetime and an enduring iconic figure today, holds the title, William--who has been on the scene far longer than Kate holds third, and Kate trails him closely at 4th:

In fact, despite what they preach, Newsweek seems to know which side their bread is buttered. Kate has been their cover girl at least three times since her marriage!  Apparently, despite their screaming headlines of doom, Newsweek knows the truth and is playing this poll for profit.

Newsweek Covers

Newsweek is cashing in on the very star power they salaciously claim is on the wane. I bet the profit margin spike was well worth the absurd headline. Well done, PR boys, well done. Friends, if Kate were my candidate, I'd be telling her to powder her nose and prep her acceptance speech, because she is going over big tonight. If Kate were my candidate, we'd easily be over the finish line first.

Comments on this post are more than welcome, but please remember that we have dealt extensively with Kate's "work-ethic" on this blog, you are welcome to see the discussion here, but that conversation is not currently being hosted and any comments reviving that topic will not be published. Thank you in advance for your understanding.

Lastly, very exciting news about the Singapore State visit. See Kate's Calendar here for an update on a possible appearance!

Have a lovely weekend! 


  1. Hi Jane great post! I do research at university so I know all about the bias in if polls and how they have to be taken with a pinch of salt! What was the point of the poll? To me there is none what are they trying to prove?! Kate is still immensely popular and has been credited with reviving the monarchy and modernising it by multiple media sources. And are they honestly surprised that women dont want to be Kate, while we admire her, many readers of this blog have acknowledged the difficulty of her role and all that goes with it! The media project the fairy tale but we (to some extent) know the reality. To be surprised that most women don't want to be Kate is rather naive!

  2. What if the reason for women not wanting to be in her shoes is different than you think. Since their marriage I have always respected her. She is a great mom although has many help. But I cant understand her work shy attitude. In her engagement interview she said she wanted to make a difference well not really. Maybe people are so keen on this. This could also be a possible explanation but maybe not to everyone' tastwe here.

  3. Oh Jane you are spot on. Love love love the blog. This was fabulous.

  4. Great post, and good job reminding us about how polls are biased. I'm sure a lot of us have heard that before, but a reminder is always good! And I think as much as we might admire her clothes, those jewels(!), the homes, the trips, etc, as Kate lovers we understand those come at great cost. Aligning to the Firm, public scrutiny, paparazzi, having to announce her pregnancies early, etc.

    I do not agree with Newsweeks angle or objective; however, even as a Kate lover I kind of understood some of the points. If I can be objective :-) I'm still a huge Kate fan, and she has the right to guard her privacy, but some people may have their interest waning when she remains so private. Unfortunately, some people love juicy stories, and the fact that they are so private and not very scandalous, some "Kate lovers" may have been lost. Then there are those of us who appreciate the glimpses they give us of their private selves, and love that they are stable and in some ways a normal couple. Also, when we go stretches without sightings (whether they are in seclusion at a property, home sick, etc) it's out of sight, out of mind.

    As for how men feel about her, I agree that she is not objectified. However, I think we'd all be surprised at how many men out there are attracted to a stable woman. Ladies I know who have been pregnant say men are constantly going out of their way to be kind, and even flirting. There is something primal in men that makes them love seeing a woman do what a woman is meant to do. Guys tend to like curves, and especially when those curves on on display (not necessarily to objectify). Kate is skinny with more of a boy figure (straight), and largely dresses conservatively out of respect for her role (and William). Guys might be more interested if she was still seen out in her club outfits, pre-engagement.

    Either way, this is another example of why William was very smart by choosing to get back together with Kate, and ultimately marry her. She is sure of herself and has a stable support system to help her get through articles like this. Regardless of whether any of this is true, she always shows up smiling and is very gracious.

    ~ Amanda

  5. Hi Jane, great post! The policy geek side of me also wonders what the baseline was for these numbers in the first place. I remember thinking, even when she and William were just dating, that "I wouldn't want to trade places with her in a million years". I think this poll reflects that attitude. We can admire her fashion sense, her charity work, and just the fact that she's married into a fishbowl and seemingly has taken this in her stride, but let's be honest, very few of us actually want to be her.

    The media likes to cash in on taking down people - celebrities, royalty, you name it. This is just another prime example of that.

    1. The media does relish in trashing famous people without good reason. "The end of the fairytale" indeed--This is a woman leading her life in a happy marriage and trying to raise her son away from the spotlight; it's not a "fairytale" to her or any sane person with an ounce of common sense. She has such natural grace, unlike the trashy faux celebs who think they ARE the fairytale.

  6. I love it! As has been said, you are so spot on with this post. you managed to illustrate it with some of the best, most natural photos of Kate, too. Much appreciated this morning.

  7. The biggest problem with this poll is the conclusion that not wanting to be Kate = don't like Kate. Oranges and apples.

  8. Hi Jane. Profoundly newsy post and all well and good, but on a lighter matter, did anyone notice the pinky ring on Rebecca Deacon in the third picture down? is she from a prominent family?

    1. Regarding Rebecca's "chunky" pinky ring, I have wondered the same thing :-) Good question!


  10. I don't trust a thing Newsweek says. Notice you cannot buy their magazine at stores anymore because their readership was almost nonexistent so they had to retreat to being internet only. If you look at Kate's People covers compared to the others, her's are all very recent. All but one seem to be from the past 4 years. Everyone else has covers from the 80s and 90s. I think that speaks volumes.
    I also don't understand this 89% don't want to be her even for a day. How does that contribute to popularity of someone? There are plenty of people I admire and follow but I don't want to be them. I would switch places with Kate for a day or week but really all that statistic shows is that people are fine being themselves and understand that you can't just be someone for a day. That shows more that people are content with their lives and not whether they like someone or not.
    The only reason I could see her popularity declining just the slightest is because in the past two years she's been pregnant, very very ill, had a child, spent time being a mother, went on tour, got pregnant again, and is again very very ill. Maybe this result is based on that fact that she isn't making appearances as much as she was after the wedding. But considering the close proximity of her pregnancies and how sick she's been with each pregnancy, there are drops in appearances. She's a human and a mother. She needs to attend to her health and her child. I think this year we've been blessed with a lot of great appearances. I also think that when she's done having children and has found a comfortable routine is raising them, she'll be out in full force making appearances and attending engagements and having a larger presence. We just have to be patient and let her live her life. Just because she'll be queen one day doesn't mean she needs to be swamped with engagements now at the expense of spending time with her children. I think if she can just be the great mother she wants to be and has been, then we're going to have an amazing queen later on because she's been fulfilled in her personal life.
    In closing, I don't really think there's anything wrong if her popularity is really declining a bit. Every public figure has rises and falls in their popularity. A lot of those people have a sudden surge in popularity and a couple years later we forget they ever existed much less remember why we liked them. With Kate it's different. This girl is here for the long haul. She's not the kind of person who will rise then fade. So it's ok if popularity shifts. Unlike most people, she has a very sound support base of fans who won't move on to the next best thing. Like you said, thousands of people read this blog alone. Her popularity is still going strong.

    1. Obviously, Kate sells, magazines, fashions, even baby clothes. That is the only poll that matters, the celebrity equivalent of election day.

    2. Katherine, I wish your post had an 'upvote' or 'like' button.

  11. Hi Jane!
    I'm here commenting again..I keep reading always your posts because I'm interested in your points of view. Even today I've found your opinion expressed in a very clever way as always. I red that entire poll and I thought the same of you..often there is not even 100% and I keep wondering the meaning of the result. Questions seem to be carefully prepared to obtain this outcome. I don't think Kate's popularity is falling at all. What is sure is when a person, even the most lovely, is overexposed for years, people tend to became more critical. It's the same with television's people. As Diana said one time..higher you arrive and more painful will be the fall (sorry..the words weren't actually these and the grammar was surely better, but the concept is this!). Anyway you have to be afraid when you reach too success! People allow you to achieve success with total acclaim for a short time and then begin to criticize even if you don't do anything to deserve it. Probably at the beginning identification is more, but after your popularity rise begins jealousy. In Italy there is a sort of cartoon image of the Royal family. I think people don't understand the real meaning of the monarchy and our history with monarchy isn't the best. Anyway Kate is on so many covers even in my country and I suppose that here nobody says anything bad about her. It's a fact that our newspapers build up totally fake stories about her . It's only bad quality gossip,so I don't like to read these topics in Italian. I agree with you that at the end only counts figures and facts. It's not a poll and not a scientific result but I recently came back from another trip to London and again I saw how much she has her popularity untouched. In the souvenir shop of Kensington Palace between the photographic books about William, Diana, Queen Victoria,.. people, women in particular, only take her book to browse the pages and to comment photos (I stayed there for a while and it was quite evident! ) ...Again at the Royal Childhood's exhibition at Buckingham Palace, people and children were animated only seeing her images or those of the baby. It's true, that is a particular public already interested, but it is the most effective public to consider, not the one who doesn't care about it. As you said, it can't decrease an interest if there wasn't at the beginning...The way in which you've expressed all this is far better than mine, but believe me that I really agree with your entire reasoning.
    Sorry again for my English to you all!

  12. Jane I.could kiss you. I have been reading your blog since the DoC was pregnant with PG and this is my first my first post. I am pleased with your analysis of this poll. The DoC critics will not be happy with your analysis.

  13. I have not had the opportunity to read the Newsweek article, but I did find a lengthy article in the Irish Examiner having to do with it--for all I know, the article may have been lifted in its entirety from Newsweek

    At any rate, it was written by a journalist named Ed Dock, and published in the Examiner on Oct.4. In it, Ed put forth his take on the poll results as well as those of some prominent women he interviewed for their take, including Germaine Greer, leading feminist, writer Marina Warner OBE, and Caroline Watson, director and co-founder of Progressive Women. (I have never heard of the last two.) All in all, the remarks made were quite positive re Kate...okay, sure, Greer remarked that Kate was too thin, but my daughter-in-law, who actually met Kate, has said the same thing...but Greer also went on to state this: Kate is a great deal more intelligent than the rest of the royals. She has been put in charge of
    William. She has a bastard of a job.

    Read into that what you will; it was at least an interesting point-of-view. Nor was she the only one to remark positively on Kate's intelligence.

    Greer also seems to be of the opinion that Kate is real, intelligent, but stifled by the Firm.

    Ed posits that the end of the fairytale does not equal any disillusionment with Kate, but rather, a coming of age of the British population, hastened by better education. Who on earth would want to be the wife of a future king with all that it entails? Yet Ed seems to think that the future of the monarchy rests with Kate, that once the Queen dies, it will fall on Kate to assume the mantle of matriarch, and not upon Camilla, in part because of the baggage she brings with her, and in part because she is not the mother of a future monarch.

    I quite enjoyed the long article, enough to read it twice, and saw very little to disagree with--and I am an unabashed fan of Kate. I hope that William is smart enough to appreciate how lucky he is in his wife.


  14. Dear Jane,
    I love your blog and follow it regularly. Not only I think that polls are biased but also I am pretty sure that people who are not interested in Kate would not submit to the poll.
    Furthermore, I think that Kate could not be concerned less about her popularity among people. She is not a starlet, she does not need the attention of the public to gain money or to keep going with her life. She is a royal and she will always be (whether people show her interest or not). Do we want to mention Princess Anne, just because? She is far more royal than Kate, she is far more active in social activities (sorry for the pun) and still almost nobody cares about her. Moreover Kate has already faced being shunned by the press.
    As far as I am concerned, I love Kate. I truly love her as a public figure, I love her charm and I love the fact that she has never seemed to be feigning her public behaviour. That being said, I do not wish I were her... maybe I wish I had her perfect skin and her glorious hair (as everybody else), I wish I had access to her closet or I wish I actually owned her clothes and she is inspirational in many ways; I have improved a lot in classy and feminine behaviour just looking at her, but I don't think I could ever bear the public interest and scrutiny she has been facing for more than 10 years.
    Now I leave you with a very very very wise aphorism: I do not think Kate's star is fading just because people do not wish they were her because, at the end of the day, who would really wish to have their single movements scrutinized to bits? Sometimes I wonder how she (a woman who was raised by a normal family and who enjoyed normal things of normal life) will feel in not being able one day to go and pick Georgie up from school like any other mum. If, one day, she will do that, she will not be surrounded by other mums waiting for their children and chatting about the latest homeworks: she will have a big human void around her and, in the distance, cameras and cameras and cameras waiting for THE moment and expecting them to be all smiling and waving.
    I love Kate, I wish her a very soon recover and I can't wait to see her again to get some more behaviour/fashion tidbits, but I really would not want to BE her!
    Sorry for the lenght, it is my first comment and I just wanted to share my opinion with you!
    Virtual hugs everybody!

  15. These polls mean nothing, they're simply popularity polls. Kate hasn't been seen out since August and the second she steps out again, she'll become popular again because there are a lot of fairweather 'fans' out there. They only care about her when she's out doing something and the second she goes away, they're back to not really caring. It's sad.


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