Sarah Palin Most Polarizing Figure In 2012 Field

This is a strange disconnect between Sarah Palin's popularity within the Republican Party and her popularity with the nation as a whole. One wonders if the GOP notices, or cares.

A new Associated Press poll confirms something that we sort of already knew:

Sarah Palin is the most polarizing of the potential 2012 Republican presidential candidates, while impressions of Mike Huckabee and Mitt Romney lean more positive, according to an Associated Press-GfK poll. As for the rest — Pawlenty, Barbour, Thune, Daniels — most Americans say, “Who?”

The election, of course, is far away, and polls this early largely reflect name recognition and a snapshot of current popularity. A year before the last presidential election, the top names in public opinion polls were Rudy Giuliani for the Republicans and Hillary Rodham Clinton for the Democrats. Neither won their party’s nomination.

But jockeying among the dozen-plus Republicans eyeing a chance to challenge President Barack Obama is under way. Soon, they will be slogging their way to living rooms in snowy Iowa, New Hampshire and other early primary states.

Palin, the former Alaska governor and 2008 vice presidential nominee, is the best-known and most divisive of the bunch. In the wake of her high-profile role in endorsing candidates all over the country, 46 percent of Americans view her favorably, 49 percent unfavorably, and 5 percent don’t know enough about her to form an opinion.

Her “don’t know” score is considerably lower than those registered by other possible candidates tested in the poll.

Huckabee, the former Arkansas governor who won the 2008 GOP Iowa caucus, received the highest favorability rating, 49 percent. About one in four people has no opinion of him, and 27 percent view him unfavorably.

Romney, the former Massachusetts governor who ran in 2008, had similar results. Nearly a quarter of all Americans have no opinion about him, while 46 percent view him favorably, and 31 percent unfavorably.

The astounding thing about this poll is the fact that, unlike Romney and Huckabee, there are very few people who don’t have an opinion about Sarah Palin at this point. This suggests that, while it might be possible for those candidates (or one of the unknowns) to improve their numbers by educating the public about who they are, Palin’s task in a General Election would be far more difficult — she would have to convince large numbers of people to forget everything they’ve seem from her and learned about her since she was first introduced to the public on August 29, 2008. While not an impossible task, it’s certainly a difficult one and when you’re running against an incumbent President it’s one that is unlikely to succeed.

This is made even more apparent once you realize that the overall public opinion of Palin hasn’t changed all that much since Americans went to the polls in November 2008:

In the national Election Day exit poll, fully 60% of voters said they did not consider her qualified to serve as president if necessary, while only 38% thought she would be ready to step in. Those figures were daunting enough, but new calculations from the exit poll provided by the NBC News political unit show that outside of the Republican base skepticism about Palin’s credentials reached even more imposing heights. While 74% of Republicans thought Palin was qualified, just 35% of independents and 9% of Democrats agreed, the figures (first aired on David Gregory’s 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue Monday night) showed.

And while 40% of voters without college education thought she could step in, just 35% of college graduates agreed. Fully 63% of college graduates rated her unqualified.

Likewise, while Palin scored relatively better in the South-45% of southerners thought she was qualified, and 53% did not-she faced towering levels of resistance in the east and west (where voters by more than two-to-one in each case considered her unqualified.) The Midwest tracked the national numbers, with two-fifths calling her qualified, and three-fifths not.

The same pattern was evident by location: Palin ran best among rural voters (45% qualified, 53% not), but sagged among suburbanites (40% yes, 59% no) and collapsed among urban residents (just 30% qualified, 67% not).

In all, the figures underscore the dilemma Palin presents for the GOP: while quite popular among the party base, she faces deep resistance from voters outside of it, including many of the groups (independents, college graduates, residents of the coasts) who turned most sharply away from the GOP in last week’s rout.

And for Palin, the numbers have never improved:

Despite these facts, however, Palin remains oddly, almost inexplicably, popular within the Republican Party:

In terms of winning the 2012 nomination, the question is how Republican-leaning Americans view the contenders. Palin comes out on top. Among adults who identify themselves as Republicans or GOP-leaning independents, 79 percent view her favorably, and 17 percent unfavorably.

I took note of this strange phenomenon back in July when a Gallup poll showed similar results to this one:

We are witnessing an almost unprecedented phenomenon. The most popular person in the Republican Party has no realistic chance of beating Barack Obama, and yet she’s got a very realistic shot at winning the nomination.

Republicans who are actually interested in winning in 2012 should pay attention before it’s too late.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2012, Politicians, Public Opinion Polls, Sarah Palin, US Politics
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds 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. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. PD Shaw says:

    Hillary Clinton had similar numbers in 2007 (52% unfavorable; 45% favorable). I imagine the dynamic, if Palin pushes forward would be similar; the Republicans will take notice and look for someone else.

  2. Sara says:

    Good grief, you guys need to get a life and give it a break on finding ways to trash Palin. You are obsessed with her to the point of being seriously over the edge.

  3. Because being really, really popular like Obama is what needs to be emulated?

  4. G.A.Phillips says:

    ***Good grief, you guys need to get a life and give it a break on finding ways to trash Palin. You are obsessed with her to the point of being seriously over the edge.***Yup…..

  5. anjin-san says:

    > Because being really, really popular like Obama is what needs to be emulated?

    I would think being focused and hard working like Obama would be the thing to emulate, but there is certainly no danger of Palin doing that.

  6. Rock says:

    @ Sara

    It’s called the POS … The Palin Obsession Syndrome. Apparently it’s fatal

  7. Smooth Jazz says:

    Oh loookie lookie, manna from heavan for a Palin hating blog like OTB. Another poll from a left wing media organization that allows OTB to get their Palin obsession fill. Hey Doug, Repeat after Me: “Palin is Polarizing”, “Palin is Polarizing”, “Palin is Polarizing”, “Palin is Polarizing”, blah blah blah. Did I forget to mention: “Palin is Polarizing”. Meanwhile, the most polarizing figure in American politics, Nancy Pelosi, gets nary a mention on this forum. Oh, and Barack Obama, is arguably more polarizing than Gov Palin with a vast majority of Dems refusing to go anywhere near the guy.

    Meanwhile, Liberal blogs like OTB, DailyKOS, Huff Post post over and over and over and over, hiving up their own self fulfilling bias: Palin is Polarizing blah blah blah, based on “media” polls obviously designed to push the Palin is Divisive meme.

    All that said, her Fav/Unfavorable rating, at 46/49, is not nearly as bad as the biased writers at AP would have us believe. Indeed, at 46/49 she is not that far off where Obama is these days, and she is in a good position to ultimately get the 50% she needs. Take your blinders off Doug and look at the numbers ago; Her 46% Fav rating isn’t that bad. And for you to try to tell the GOP to reject her is more reflective of your innate bias, rather than whether she can build on these respectable numbers for her. The fact is the media, Libs, snarky Repubs hammer her day after day after day, yet she is within striking distance of 50% Fav, a remarkable number for her given all the forces lined up against her.

    If and when she does leave the scene, Doug & OTB will surely miss the object of his condesceding, snarling scorn. I hope he gets over his Palin obsession one day.

  8. Gerry W. says:

    Outside of polling and winning, it makes no difference if it’s Sarah, MItt, or Mike, they all say the same thing. Tax cuts, free market principles, and God and country. All right wing nuts that totally ignores the problems we face.

  9. Zelsdorf Ragshaft III says:

    Yeah, Anjhin, Obama has really focuses. I wonder if his focus is on his short game or his putting. It surely is not on governance as he has no experience in that area. You ever wonder if this dude ever really gave up his coke habit? Obama’s long list of accomplishment leaves one wondering just what his work habits are. Since we cannot see any record of academic accomplishments, meaning we can find out what Clinton, Bush, Kerry, or Palin got for grades in school. With Obama that info is off limits. On the surface he looks good, but dig a little deeping and one finds rot.

    Doug, I know you are a knuckle dragger because you have never seen nor heard Palin yet you are against her. Your arguement with her is not about what she has to say but about her personally. But then if I were gay I would prefer a Kenyan/American to a beautiful accomplished woman, too.

  10. anjin-san says:

    Are we “obsessed” with not letting someone even stupider than Bush with the potential to Fvck the country up even worse than he did become the most powerful person in the world?

    Guess so. We are living in the wreckage of the Bush era, and don’t think the patient can survive another heart attack. Once bitten, twice shy…

  11. tom p says:

    1964?

  12. Herb says:

    “Liberal blogs like OTB”

    Uh huh….Sarah Palin fans are funny. Treat her like the frontrunner and you’re “obsessing.” Treat her like a joke and you’re….I don’t know what, being mean or something.

  13. ponce says:

    Isn’t it about time for the Republcan hopefuls to announce:?

    It will be interesting to see if Sarah the Quitter fishes or just cuts bait.

  14. PD Shaw says:

    I’m waiting for Doug’s retraction that Palin is not a polarizing figure.

  15. Pete says:

    It’s nice to hear from Anjin and ponce again. Did you two just escape the men in white coats? Not sure how you two would react to the drubbing you and your statist friends took in the last election, but I’m heartened to see that you are back with your feverish BDS. Now you shouldn’t feel too bad at the emphatic repudiation of your favorite ideas since Jerry Brown won and he can continue to drive CA into a race to the bottom with Greece. Oh, I forgot. California will beg for a bailout from other states who behaved like adults; not adolescent spoiled brats. So, welcome back. The adults herein need “white noise” from room temperature IQ statists like you two to remind us that 20% of the population is a couple quarts low.

    Wonder where Michael Reynolds is? Probably writing a book about how this election was stolen by Bush. Or maybe he moved to Cuba to go fishing.

  16. ponce says:

    “Not sure how you two would react to the drubbing you and your statist friends took in the last election”

    Seeing as the Tea Party helped the Democrats retain control of the Senate, I consider the recent election a big win for Team Socialism.

    Particularly if Obama has to replace Scalia during the next two years.

  17. Smooth Jazz says:

    “The most popular person in the Republican Party has no realistic chance of beating Barack Obama, and yet she’s got a very realistic shot at winning the nomination.”

    Blah Blah Blah. Yadda Yadda Yadda. Barack Obama is so unpopular these days that he is very toxic in the key states he needs to win like PA, OH, FLA, MI, WIS, etc etc etc. Who are you to make predictions regarding his ability to beat anyone. We all know this is your own bias leading you to a conclusion that supports that bias. It’s all a self fulfilling prophrecy: A Palin hit piece or “media” poll designed to push a narrative gets published, and Doug/OTB stands at the ready, to pounce and remind readers that Palin has ZERO chance of winning the Presidency, even while acknowledging that is possible she can be the nominee.

    But try to put your bias aside for a minute and ask yourself this question: If she performs well in Repub primary debates and on the stump, and wins the Repub nomination, it is possible many people who are skeptical today may see her in a different light by then. Especially if she continue depth like she did with the recent QE2 debate where she was praised by the Wall Street journal. And if Obama continues to be VERY unpopular by then, the country may be in the mood to give this “dumb” woman a chance, given that the smart, elite Ivy League types will not be very popular with the people.

    Keep telling yourself this woman has no chance; Maybe one day you and your colleagues that publish this blog will get your biases confirmed – OR NOT. Her numbers in the poll you referenced, 46/49, are not that bad. Those are great numbers for her to work from. You risk looking like a fool to keep dismissing her out of hand just like all these media, elite Rep & Lib hacks who underestimate her.

  18. tom p says:

    Shorter Zelsdorf, GA, Sara, RINO MORON (boy is that apprpriate), smooth jazz, rock, and Pete: HERETIC!!!!!!!!!!!!!! KILL THE HERETIC!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Doug, I recommend a large dose of Monty Python.

  19. Pete says:

    Please take your meds. You are hallucinating again. The Tea Party is alive and well and just beginning the process of flushing the political system of liberal detritus and boneheaded moonbats like you. The wave continues and in 2012, the senate will go republican. Have you even considered how redistricting will be the nail in the coffin of you statists?

  20. tom p says:

    “Have you even considered how redistricting will be the nail in the coffin of you statists?”

    And if we start talking about “Second Amendment” resolutions, what will you say? Yeah… that’s what I thought… OK for you, not for us.

  21. Smooth Jazz says:

    “Seeing as the Tea Party helped the Democrats retain control of the Senate, I consider the recent election a big win for Team Socialism. Particularly if Obama has to replace Scalia during the next two years.”

    Yeah, right. Take a look at who is in the Senate now and who is up for relection in 2012, paying special attention to DEM senators in red states where Obama and the Dems were recently obliterated: McCaskill in MO, Tester in MT, Manchin in WV (up again in 2012), Ben Nelson in NE, Webb in VA, Bill Nelson in FLA, Brown in OH,etc. Over 20 Dems Senate seats up in 2012, while only 10 Repub Senate seats.

    McCaskill, Tester, Webb & Brown barely won their last SEnate races in 2006; You think they are going to give Obama a blank check to nominate a Lib to replace a Scalia for example Given where the country is today, they risk being obliterated in 2012. You think Manchin would go along for a Lib on the Supreme court to replace Scalia after he just shot a gun through Obama’s Cap & Trade bill, knowing full well REpubs are seeing if he kisses up to Obama as he runs again in 2012.

    Don’t kid yourselves – Dems may still have the numbers in the Senate but Repubs have effective control given all the Red state Dems up for reelection in 2012.

  22. tom p says:

    “McCaskill in MO, ”

    SJ, not sure under what microscope you are examining McCaskill, and not saying she is safe, but she is generally well regarded here. Not because we all agree with her, but because she says what she means and means what she says, and is respected for that.

    That said, I do not think (at this point in time) that she is in danger of losing her seat.

    She is one tuff broad, and we like that in a Senator.

  23. anjin-san says:

    The sad part is that Pete probably thinks he is being clever.

    I have to join in and thank Palin/tea party for keeping the Senate in the hands of Democrats. Difficult to do in light of Reid’s poor leadership, but they were up to the task.

    It’s interesting listening to these guys crowing about recent GOP electoral gains – reminds me of the overweight 30 year old guy who still lives with his parents and watches sports obsessively, hoping to vicariously enjoy the thrill of victory that he is unable to create in his own life.

  24. ponce says:

    “Take a look at who is in the Senate now and who is up for relection in 2012”

    Two years is a looooong time in politics.

    When Boner and the Tea Party phonies pass their first budget with a $1 trillion deficit their thousand year fascist paradise will be at an end.

  25. An Interested Party says:

    All of this gloating sounds similar to what Democrats were crowing in 2006 and 2008…some of you should be quite careful in what you predict, as today’s winners can end up being tomorrow’s losers…as for “statists”, one need look no further than to the Republicans, as they ran against cutting Medicare…do you really think they are going to propose big cuts to Social Security, Medicare, and Defense? Try not to kid yourself, as that “statist” label can be attached to members of both major political parties…oh, and I’m sure some will be more than happy to get over their PDS when others can get over their ODS…good luck with that…

  26. Pete says:

    Anjin, tsk, tsk! Are you looking in the mirror while regurgitating some snarky comment you picked up from The Agonist? Actually I’m a conservative Viet Nam vet who has been comfortably successful running my own small business. I tried working for a big company, like you do, and found the bureaucratic BS suffocating; which may be why you think with such twisted logic. While you no doubt consider yourself successful, and more power to you for that, try striking out on your own and finding success through the endless stream of small business smothering regulations and tax burdens. Guess you find more comfort letting someone else make decisions for you. Gee, that sounds like a statist.

  27. Pete says:

    IP, I agree with you. The republicans better produce and throw out their old deadwood and make the tough decisions this country needs, or there will be a third party forming. It should be clear that the dems have nothing but old ideas and the indies rejected them wholesale. The indies went for Obama in 08 cuz of GWB, not Obama. And Obama was masterful in disguising his true colors while campaigning. So, conservatism is still the dominant force in politics and politicians who have the guts to tell the truth about the trouble this country is in will eventually be regarded as heroes and elected. Marco Rubio comes to mind.

  28. Pete says:

    Ponce, the Tea Party phonies just kicked your statist butt.

  29. anjin-san says:

    > try striking out on your own and finding success

    I do a fair amount of consulting, my clients include Grammy & Emmy winners and a multi platinum producer. I also do some work with professional athletes. So far, the big bad government has not held me back. As for “letting others make the decisions for me” at work, if spouting nonsense makes you feel better, continue by all means. You know nothing about who I report to or how much decision making lattitude I have, so you are just making yourself sound kind of silly.

    Seems like you are happy doing what you do, but don’t knock people who decide they want to play in the majors.

  30. Herb says:

    “If she performs well in Repub primary debates and on the stump, and wins the Repub nomination, it is possible many people who are skeptical today may see her in a different light by then. ”

    That’s a lot of ifs. The problem is that she’ll be going up against an incumbent president. That’s not a good time to try out the iffy candidate.

    The sad thing? I think the folks who want Sarah Palin to be the choice are thinking of this like a sporting contest. If “your team” wins, then you celebrate. You pose for the pictures. You go to Disneyland. Life is good. You are the champions, my friends.

    But in politics, “winning” is only the beginning. I’m not sure Sarah Palin or her supporters have thought beyond the Disneyland celebration.

  31. anjin-san says:

    > regurgitating some snarky comment you picked up from The Agonist?

    Not familiar with The Agonist, and I do all my own writing…

  32. G.A.Phillips says:

    ****Two years is a loooong time in politics.****lol. dude you still got Obama, Reed, and the Lich Queen running this country, bet your donkey two years is a Loooong time.

  33. Davebo says:

    “Ponce, the Tea Party phonies just kicked your statist butt.”

    Actually, Tea Party candidates were almost all defeated. I guess you could claim Rand Paul was a Tea Partier but in reality he just accepted the support when offered.

    Aside from Rubio, who also simply co-opted the useful idiots I have a hard time finding a TP candidate that wasn’t soundly defeated from Delaware to Alaska.

  34. Davebo says:

    And is it unfair to mention that the “Tea Party” really isn’t a political party at all?

  35. ponce says:

    “Actually, Tea Party candidates were almost all defeated.”

    I see crazy Michelle Bachmann just lost her bid to become part of the Republican leadership.

    Looks the the Tea Party losing streak isn’t over yet.

    A revolution that’s dying before it got started.

  36. TG Chicago says:

    Can we actually talk about the post rather than just go off on “Love Sarah! Hate Sarah!” nonsense?

    Mataconis said, “This is made even more apparent once you realize that the overall public opinion of Palin hasn’t changed all that much since Americans went to the polls in November 2008”

    Then he cited a 2008 poll that said. “74% of Republicans thought Palin was qualified”.

    But things have changed since 2008.

    http://blog.seattlepi.com/seattlepolitics/archives/226638.asp

    “In the ABC/WashPost poll, Palin’s fellow Republicans are evenly divided on whether she is qualified: 47 percent say she is, 46 percent answered that she isn’t.”

    There are a lot of Republicans who, while they may like her, do not feel she is qualified to be president.

  37. G.A.Phillips says:

    ****Aside from Rubio, who also simply co-opted the useful idiots I have a hard time finding a TP candidate that wasn’t soundly defeated from Delaware to Alaska.*** what happened to Russ? LOL dude…..Why?

    the TEA PATY just stared guys……

  38. sam says:

    “the TEA PATY just stared guys……”

    Like a moose in the headlights.

  39. G.A.Phillips says:

    Well well some of you liberals can spell, not totally useless……

  40. sam says:

    Speaking of La Palin and The Incredible Image Machine, see these two articles:

    Not Sarah Palin’s Friends -The Facebook posts Palin doesn’t want you to see and No Comment -It doesn’t take much to get deleted from the world of Sarah Palin

    Seems Caribou Barbie has a phalanx of flunkies who ensure that ne’re a cloud shall occlude that wonderfulness of her brilliance.

  41. Gerry W. says:

    And these are the same people who talk of freedom. Mein Kampt anyone?

  42. Don L says:

    The country’s in danger of becoming a Marxist/socialist/trophy and we can’t figure out that at a time like this, we need the most polarizing figure in power to prevent it from happening?

    My goodness – how many Brits thought our forefathers were the most polarizing – least compromising people around.

    We don’t need moderates now -that’s how we got down where we are – not standing up firmly to the jackals when they should have been stopped dead in their tracks. Eough with the John McCain worship (don’t criticize my friends across the isle) we either want the America envisioned by our constitution or we want something else , but above all don’t let it slip away just because the enemy calls you silly names like “polarizer.” (And political correctness is just that – they intend for us to back off of oppossing the evil they do by attacking us with feel-good words) Sorry – too much at stack for the pride weapn to work!

  43. Gerry W. says:

    But the constitution will not create jobs. You need to address the problem of globalization and the loss of jobs.

  44. […] I’ve noted over the past week (here and here), Sarah Palin remains an incredibly polarizing figure outside the Republican Party and trails Barack Obama in head-to-head polls. Inside the GOP, she remains incredibly popular to […]