If Sarah Palin Runs, She Will Lose

While Sarah Palin continues to tease her supporters about a possible Presidential run, the damage she could do to the GOP becomes even more apparent.

A new Pew Research Center poll provides ample evidence for the proposition that if Sarah Palin decides to run for President, she will not only be defeated, but decisively so:

A nugget from today’s Pew poll that deserves a post of its own: Forty-one percent of Republicans and Republican-leaning voters say there is “no chance” they would vote for Sarah Palin in a presidential race.

That’s the second-highest rejection rate of any Republican candidate, exceeded only by Newt Gingrich, who was ruled out by 48 percent of respondents.

Palin’s poll numbers are comparable to, or even slightly worse than, Ron Paul’s. Despite being viewed by many as a fringe or fringe-friendly figure, Paul has 21 percent of Republicans who say there’s a “good chance” they’d vote for him, and 37 percent who say there’s “some chance.”

For Palin, those numbers are 24 percent (“good chance”) and 34 percent (“some chance.”) A higher proportion of Republicans have crossed her off the list of options, by a 4-point margin.

These are not the only reality-check numbers for Palin this week. A Gallup survey released yesterday showed that in a race that includes all the current candidates, plus Palin and Rudy Giuliani, the former Alaska governor would draw 11 percent of the vote — tying Paul for third place.

What’s more, a Public Policy Polling survey in Iowa showed that Palin would start out in fifth place there with 10 percent of the vote, trailing Paul by 2 points and local frontrunner Rick Perry by an 11-point margin.

None of this should be surprising to anyone who’s paid attention to the public perception of Sarah Palin outside of the echo chamber of conservative talk radio, Fox News Channel, and the Palinista blogs, Facebook pages, and Twitter feeds, but it’s made strikingly obvious by Palin’s favorable/unfavorable numbers, which are approaching Charlie Sheen territory at this point:

Alana Goodman at Commentary sees these poll numbers as a sign that Palin will decide not to run:

The top priority for most Republican voters is to nominate a candidate who has a chance of beating Obama. If Palin entered the GOP race, her inability to win a national election would get even more publicity than it already has. She would become toxic. As a real live candidate, her performance in the polls could end up making the 11 percent Republican support she’s pulling in right now look impressive.

With these numbers, is there even a need to speculate about the Sept. 3 speech?

A normal politician wouldn’t run under these circumstances. However, this is Palin we’re talking about and, if nothing else, the past three years have demonstrated that her own ego is sufficiently large that it’s possible that she doesn’t really care if her candidacy tears the GOP apart or, if she somehow manages to in the nomination, that she’d guarantee a second term for Barack Obama by a margin that could be large enough to threaten GOP control of the House. So, who knows what she’s going to do.

There’s no denying the enthusiasm and loyalty that Palin generates among her supporters. It’s identical to the fanatical and mindless adoration that is usually reserved for rock stars and Hollywood celebrities. Bizarrely, ot has even tranferred itself to her family to the point where Bristol Palin appearing on Dancing With The Stars was suddenly a political issue for some people. With supporters like that, it’s not hard to see how she could win the GOP nomination. At the same time, though, there are few politicians as polarizing as Sarah Palin. Even a majority of her own supporters don’t necessarily think she should be President. If she does walk out of the Republican National Convention in Tampa on the night of August 30, 2012 with the GOP nomination, she’s likely to go down in flames along with such memorable names as Walter Mondale, George McGovern, and Alf Landon.


FILED UNDER: 2012 Election, US Politics, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Tsar Nicholas II says:

    Not to nitpick but technically speaking I believe the proper Palin nominee analogy is Barry Goldwater. Unlike Mondale and McGovern we have to presume Palin could eke out more than one state’s electoral votes.

    That said, the crazy irony here is that Palin’s most rabid supporters are so completely disconnected from reality they won’t be able even to grasp the political ironies of a Palin nomination and its inevitable car crash of a conclusion.

  2. Hey Norm says:

    She’s running for VP.
    PERRY/PALIN ’12!!!!

  3. Neil Hudelson says:

    Nontraditional campaign! She’s going to win this election by not winning this election!

  4. @Tsar Nicholas II:

    Not to nitpick but technically speaking I believe the proper Palin nominee analogy is Barry Goldwater.

    Isn’t constantly being compared to Sarah Palin rather unfair to Goldwater? Even if his views were unpopular, he at least propounded a coherent set of policy positions, rather than just regurgitating canned phrases that he didn’t really understand.

  5. Hey Norm says:

    “…regurgitating canned phrases that he didn’t really understand…”

    Wait – are you talking about Palin? Or Tsar Nick?

  6. Jay Tea says:

    I dearly hate to interrupt the inevitable circle-jerk when there’s yet another poll that says something bad about Sarah Palin or Michele Bachmann or some other conservative that Doug looks down his nose at, but there’s something actually resembling substance about Palin out there: she’s just put out a four-point statement on the Libyan revolution. And it actually makes a bit of sense.



  7. Hey Norm says:

    @ JTea
    “…First, the White House needs to avoid triumphalism. Gaddafi may be gone, but the fighting may not be complete. As we’ve seen in Kosovo, Bosnia, Iraq, and Afghanistan, we must not celebrate too quickly. There are now mounting concerns that we will see tribal and sectarian fighting in Libya like we saw in Iraq…”

    What about that makes sense?
    This White House has not been triumphant about OBL or Libya. I do remember one White House and a Mission Accomplished sign though…when was that?

  8. Hey Norm says:

    And a former President strutting around an aircraft carrier like a peacock with his flight-suit and codpiece.

  9. Jay Tea says:

    @Hey Norm: I understand that “plain English” isn’t your native tongue, Norm, but “needs to avoid” is what we call a warning. It means that they aren’t doing it now, but could in the future — and shouldn’t.

    Considering the track record of this administration — that so quickly embraced the Libyan rebels before we knew anything about them, and hailed Bashar Assad as a reformer, just to name two — it’s not a completely absurd presumption.


  10. Jay Tea says:

    @Hey Norm: News flash, Norm: again, recognizing your limitations, let me spell something out to you:

    Sarah Palin is NOT George W. Bush.

    Write that down, Norm. There WILL be a test.


  11. Ken says:

    If Sarah Palin Runs, She Will Lose

    Nonsense. If Sarah Palin runs, she will quit as soon as the going gets tough and spend the next four years enjoying all those leftover campaign funds.

  12. Jay Tea says:

    If Sarah Palin runs, it will be a campaign unlike any other campaign ever seen in US history.

    That is the ONLY prediction one can make. Everything else is just spin, projection, and self-delusion.


  13. Socrates says:

    If Sarah Palin runs, it will be a campaign joke unlike any other campaign joke ever seen in US history.

    Fixed it.

  14. mantis says:

    That is the ONLY prediction one can make.

    No, actually, it’s not. One can make all sorts of predictions, and some may turn out to be correct.

    For instance, I predict Jay Tea will continue to pine for his dream girl Sarah Palin, telling everyone else what they can and can’t say about her and defending her idiocy as brilliance, passing along Facebook messages she hired someone to write for her as evidence. I also predict she will never notice her stalwart defender and hire him as Minister of Propaganda, much as he would hope she would. Also too.

  15. Jay Tea says:

    @mantis: Pedantism, mantis? Pretty weak, from you of all people…


  16. mantis says:

    @Jay Tea:

    Pedantism, mantis?

    No, not really. You defined all speculation apart from one “Jay Tea approved” speculation as “spin, projection, and self-delusion.” This is an absurd contention for you to make. One can make all sorts of speculation as to Palin’s chances based on polling, historical data, her own actions, etc., none of which would be “spin, projection, and self-delusion.” So I poke some fun at you for your stupid comment.

    By the way, the proper word would be pedantry, not “pedantism.” Now that’s pedantry!

  17. Jay Tea says:

    Note to self: “Pedantry.”

    Fine, let me sum it up: the only prediction worth making about Palin’s possible candidacy is that it would be unlike any we’ve ever seen. Because of that, predictions about its success or failure are utterly pointless, and are the product of the prognosticator’s biases.

    OK, one exception. A Palin candidacy would be tremendously entertaining.


  18. Fiona says:

    @Jay Tea:

    Yeah, I’m thinking that a Palin candidacy would be a real laugh riot, when you’re not crying about the fact that this self-delusional idiot thinks she has what it takes to be POTUS.

  19. hbouchard says:

    This is my second post at this site, and probably my last. I thought that a site labeled “Outside the beltway” would represent people who are not dependent on government giveaways. It would seem that people here are not really about personal responsibility. Most,if not all the negative comment about Sarah Palin are irresponsible. If she deserves criticism please be specific. I have yet to see an example of her stupidity. I have heard the claim of stupidity over and over. If you are not aware of the “Big Lie” principle in politics then please educate your self. I find it disturbing that such harsh words are thrown her way that are inconsistent with what is the truth. I wish someone would comment on how she was wrong. No politician is perfect and Palin is flawed, but it seems that there is a special Palin measuring stick in which she comes up short. No other candidate is measured in the same way. As a Palin supporter I’ll quickly list why I hope she will be our President.

    1. Drill, baby drill.

    2. Let small ( and large) business grow.

    3. Don’t tax too much.

    4. Respect ( Don’t criticize} the constitution.

    5. Respect life.

    6. Maintain a strong defense.

    7. Be proud of our history.

    That is a simple list that no Democrats could honestly uphold and very few Republicans could. Sarah Palin will do this and more. Don’t under estimate her. Don’t vote for Obama.

  20. OzarkHillbilly says:

    hbouchard says:

    You lost me at “1. Drill, baby drill.”

    Reality baby, it’s a bitch.

  21. liberty60 says:

    “I have yet to see an example of her stupidity.”

    “Drill baby drill.”

    Question asked and answered.

  22. Sarahistheone says:

    Thank you hbouchard….I was ready to throw up on this site…Bye!

  23. Xrlq says:

    Here’s what the Bachmen and the Palinstas alike don’t seem to get. While they themselves may really, really, really, really like their candidate, that doesn’t mean they get to vote for her four times. It does, however, mean, that many independents who might otherwise vote Republican, along with a fair number of Republicans who almost certainly would, will instead hold one nostril and vote for Obama. Meanwhile, at least as many disaffected liberals who never would have voted Republican, but otherwise might have sat this one out, will instead come out in droves to vote against her.

  24. anjin-san says:

    There are now mounting concerns that we will see tribal and sectarian fighting in Libya like we saw in Iraq…

    That certainly seems to be what the right is hoping for…

  25. An Interested Party says:

    As a Palin supporter I’ll quickly list why I hope she will be our President.

    Talk about hope and change!

    Sarah Palin will do this and more. Don’t under estimate her.

    Awww…that really is so precious…keep hope alive!

    @Xrlq: Exactly right…of course no one expects the fanboys and other true believers to understand this…

  26. M. Simon says:

    You guys are so brilliant. Drilling for oil in America IS a stupid idea. The Saudis need the money. Not to mention the Canadians and Mexicans. Did I mention jobs? Well we sure don’t need any of those.

  27. M. Simon says:


    I think you have a valid point. Do you think we can get Joe Biden to run as a Republican?

  28. M. Simon says:

    I’m a Palin supporter. But I go into it with open eyes.

    Rule number #1

    1. Is she a politician? She is a crook.

    Probably a much lesser crook than the rest. Still.

    Of all the top tier R candidates she is the most sensible on the Drug War (which is not saying much). She said (aprox) “We have better things to do than chase pot smokers.”

    My dream ticket?


    She has the best fiscal record of any of the Governors running. No doubt you will hear more about that if she throws her bear rug into the ring.

    And one other thing to expect if she runs.: Palin supporters will be over running the blogs worse than Ron Paul people. Some fun. Huh?

  29. Jay Tea says:

    @Xrlq: Here’s what the Bachmen and the Palinstas alike don’t seem to get. While they themselves may really, really, really, really like their candidate, that doesn’t mean they get to vote for her four times.

    True enough. That privilege is restricted to Democrats in Chicago, and selected other Democratic enclaves.

    Hey, where is our current president from again? I forget…


  30. Yet another disillusioned pawn says:

    @Jay Tea: Yeah, Sarah Palin’s comments mirror every commentary that I have been reading for the past three days. Right now, I am living outside the country, so I’m reading foreign press. Maybe that makes a difference. In any event, Sarah Palin saying anything that represents a firm grasp of reality–even if it is only a firm grasp of the obvious –is a welcome change from the usual the drivel about Paul Revere and the like.

  31. mantis says:

    Hey, where is our current president from again? I forget…

    Kenya, of course.