Sarah Palin: America's Top Republican

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Sarah Palin is the most popular (though most divisive) of the top GOP figures in the land, according to a new poll from Pew, which compared her to Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, and Michael Steele. This, of course, leaves out some other important GOP figures--most notably Mike Huckabee, whose strong showing in the 2008 GOP primary and continued presence on Fox News places him in the well-known category along with those four.

This comes after a June 2 CNN poll showed no clear frontrunner in the 2012 primary race, with Huckabee slightly ahead of the pack.

Here's how their favorable/unfavorables break down. Huckabee was included, along with Romney, Palin, and Gingrich, in an automated Public Policy Polling survey June 18, so I'll include his line from that survey*.

                     National fav/unfav %   GOP fav/unfav %
Sarah Palin:                45/44                   73/17                       
Mitt Romney:              40/28                   57/18
Newt Gingrich:            35/38                   55/22
Michael Steele:           23/14                  28/14
Mike Huckabee*:        43/35                   70/17

Palin edges Huckabee as the most popular among Republicans. They're both vastly popular among the Republicans polled by Pew, though Palin is divisive nationally (about the same number view her unfavorably as favorably). If the 2012 GOP primary were today, Palin might just win it; if the general election were tomorrow, she'd probably lose.

Another tidbit from Pew's findings: public impressions of Palin haven't changed much since October, with her total favorability climbing three percent since then, compared to 10 percent for Romney since Feb. 2008. Those time periods are far different, but the way Pew presents it, Palin's public image has crystallized in a polarizing fashion, and the public has more or less made up their minds about her, one way or the other.

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Chris Good is a political reporter for ABC News. He was previously an associate editor at The Atlantic and a reporter for The Hill.

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