8/18: 2012 Prospects: Palin a Force in GOP But Not General Electorate

Former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin may still be making news headlines, but the U.S. electorate has news for her.  If the 2012 presidential election were held today and she were the Republican candidate, Palin would not defeat President Barack Obama.  In fact, the president would win the election by a considerable margin.

Sarah Palin

Sarah Palin

56% of U.S. registered voters report they would cast their ballot for the president while 33% would vote for Palin.  It’s probably not a shock that public opinion divides along party lines.  92% of Democrats would support Obama in this hypothetical contest while 73% of Republicans would back Palin.  Although President Obama does not receive a majority of Independents in this matchup, Obama does win nearly half — 49% — of this key voting group.  Palin receives 34% of their support.

Table: Obama/Palin 2012 Toss-up

(Image courtesy: https://www.flickr.com/photos/lifeisaprayer/ / CC BY-SA 2.0)

No Clear Republican Frontrunner for 2012…Decision to Resign Hurt Palin, Say Voters

While Sarah Palin’s resignation from office has fueled further speculation about a 2012 presidential run, Republicans aren’t giving her a free pass.  In fact, when Republicans including Independents who lean toward the GOP were asked whom they would support if the 2012 Republican presidential primary were held today, 21% report they would back former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney.  20% would support Palin, and 19% would vote for former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee.  Further down in the pack are former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich with 10%, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal with 5% and Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty with 1%.  24% of Republicans including leaners are unsure.

Palin’s decision to step down from office did not help her cause.  In fact, voters say her action hurt her prospects for a presidential bid.  61% of the national electorate thought Palin’s resignation was a bad political move while just 15% report it helps her political aspirations.  The self-proclaimed “soccer mom” doesn’t even gain the affirmation of her own party.  A slim majority of Republicans — 51% — think Palin’s stepping down hurt her political future.  69% of Democrats and 61% of Independents agree.

When it comes to Sarah Palin’s overall favorability, newly-minted private citizen Palin has some damage control to do.  43% of the U.S. electorate views her unfavorably compared with 37% who think positively of her.  20% are unsure.

However, Palin does have some considerable clout within her own party.  Nearly three-quarters of Republicans — 73% — think well of Palin compared with 16% who have the opposite opinion.  Palin currently does not fare well with voters across the aisle.  Just 11% of Democrats hold her in high esteem.

Table: 2012 Presidential Republican Primary

Table: Impact of Palin’s Resignation on 2012 Bid
Table: Palin’s Favorability

Marist Poll Methodology

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Complete August 18, 2009 USA Release & Tables