Sarah Palin Divides The GOP Elite

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Sarah Palin may draw ecstatic crowds in "real America," but among Republican insiders in Washington, she's not so popular.

National Journal's annual Insiders Poll issue will come out Friday, but we've got some early results; the most interesting finding is how many GOP insiders and members of Congress listed Palin as one of their least favorite members of the party.

Palin was the top response when 85 GOP strategists and insiders were asked, "Which voice in your party would you most like to mute?" 28 percent listed Palin; Republican National Committee Chairman Michael came in second, with 12 percent.

Republican members of Congress think a little more highly of her: when GOP lawmakers were asked the same question, "no one" was the most popular response (16 percent), but Palin tied for second at 11 percent with Glenn Beck and Reps. Michele Bachmann (R-MN), Steve King (R-IA), and Tom Price (R-GA). 19 votes were recorded in this category.

A smaller handful of GOP insiders are markedly pro-Palin: she came in second to newly elected Virginia Gov.-elect Bob McDonnell (who got 22 percent) when insiders were asked, "Which political figure has most impressed you this year?" Palin got 11 percent of the 87 responses.
 
(Note: a mini-theme of "Palinism vs. McDonnellism" emerged around the GOP since McDonnell's victory in the gubernatorial race in November. McDonnell ran a centrist campaign focusing on jobs and transportation; that was seen as a contrast to Palin's fiscally conservative, ideologically charged populist rhetoric that had driven so much energy in the GOP.)

It might be unsurprising that, among any group of people, 28 percent don't like Palin: a facet of her political charisma is that she's divisive, and her unfavorable numbers have historically been close to her favorable numbers, with about as many people against her as for her, though Pollster.com's snapshot shows them improving worsening. Right now, her average is 48 percent favorable, 41 percent unfavorable 41 percent favorable, 48 percent unfavorable.

But that's not true among Republicans, a whopping 70 percent of whom view her favorably nationwide, according to a Fox poll released in November. 21 percent of Republicans held unfavorable views of her in that poll.

Since the vice presidential nomination catapulted her into the national spotlight, Sarah Palin has traded on her identity as a Washington outsider, and her scuffles with John McCain's inside-the-beltway team of advisers have publicly backed that up. Perhaps the Republican political elite are out of touch with the Palin-loving Republican base, but it's no wonder 28 percent of them don't care for her, given that she probably doesn't care for them either.

See Hotline OnCall's post on the poll for more results, plus the full lists of insiders and lawmakers polled.

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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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