How Popular Is Palin?

By Chris Good

The conventional wisdom on Sarah Palin is that she's a divisive figure, and, from what polls tell us, that's true: according to Pollster.com's average, 38 percent of Americans hold a favorable view of her, while 49.2 percent view her unfavorably. So she's in minus territory--11.2 percent more Americans view her negatively than positively--which is bad for any politician running for office (if indeed she is).

That's worse than other top-tier 2012 contenders, too, whose favorable/unfavorable splits, according to the same average, are 36.9 / 27.3 for Mitt Romney and 44.6 / 23/9 for Mike Huckabee.

But among Republicans, she does quite well, outperforming her two chief rivals.

According to a new Fox poll--the first major poll on Palin since her book release and media blitz--a full 70 percent of Republicans view her favorably, while 21 percent view her unfavorably. Huckabee, meanwhile, collects 63 percent favorable vs. 28 percent unfavorable; Romney gets 60 percent favorable vs. 20 percent unfavorable.

The Fox poll also gives her a better overall favorability picture: among all 900 registered voters in the sample, 47 percent viewed her favorably vs. 42 percent unfavorably.

So it's possible the book, the signing tour, and the media blitz have helped her. (Or it's possible Fox's poll was just particularly friendly to her).

ABC's polling, conducted before the book release, showed her at 76 percent favorable among Republicans. CBS, meanwhile, gave her a 52 percent favorable rating among GOPers, with 16 percent unfavorable and 32 percent undecided--a much larger quotient than in the other polls, which sometimes indicates that the surveyors didn't press respondents as hard.

To compare this to the president: at the height of his post-election popularity, President Obama topped out at 79 percent among all Americans. Right now, according to Quinnipiac, 87 percent of Democrats view him favorably.

So while Palin may be a divisive figure to the whole of the American public, that's not the case among Republicans. Perhaps this will come to bear in 2012.

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2009/11/how-popular-is-palin/30557/