Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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December 29, 2010

MAYBE SHE SHOULDN'T HAVE QUIT AFTER HALF A TERM.... There's ample evidence to show that Sarah Palin is not a well-liked political figure nationwide. It's slightly more interesting, though, to see how unpopular she is in her home state.

In Alaska just 33% of voters have a favorable opinion of her to 58% with a negative one. The only place where fewer voters see her positively than her own home state is dark blue Massachusetts.

Democrats hate Palin in Alaska but they hate her everywhere so there's nothing newsworthy about that. What makes her home state numbers unusually bad is that Republicans see her favorably by only a 60/30 margin. In most places she's closer to 80% favorability within her own party. Also while independents don't like her anywhere their level of animosity in Alaska is unusually large -- 65% unfavorable to only 25% with a favorable opinion.

Some of this, of course, is the result of Palin being a national embarrassment, which makes her unpopular everywhere. But Dave Weigel notes why Alaskans' attitudes are of particular interest.

I visited Alaska in July, and spent half a day in Wasilla, where one used book store put Going Rogue in the Alaska Fiction section. There are simple psychological reasons for all of this. People come to Alaska to strike out and get rich -- in gold, on the oil pipeline, on fishing boats. But Alaskans don't bail on the state to get rich elsewhere, and that's obviously what Palin did in July 2009. She kept her home base in the state while making money as a political pundit Outside.

As she did this, Alaskans visiting other states, who were once asked about bears or Deadliest Catch, were asked some variation of the question "ooh, ooh, can you see Russia from your house?" So this is a very specific, provincial kind of popularity plunge.

This, by the way, comes on the heels of another survey from Public Policy Polling that asked Alaska Republicans who they favored for the 2012 GOP presidential nomination. Palin was third in the poll, with a measly 15%.

In the context of the presidential campaign, I continue to think this matters. Some political figures weighing national bids enjoy considerable support from those who presumably know them best -- their home state's voters. But as Republicans get set to announce, we see a field in which several prominent candidates -- Palin, Tim Pawlenty, Mitt Romney -- have effectively been told by their former constituents, "Don't bother."

Steve Benen 9:30 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (23)

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Sorry, but I have to say it
Palin is just a horrible human being, she is a merchant of hate, she is greedy, dumb and not even a very good mother. Then there is the question of her cruelty to animals, and I am prejudiced towards animals!

Posted by: js on December 29, 2010 at 9:35 AM | PERMALINK

My dream scenario is that Sarah motivates the Tea party crazies enough to win the nomination and becomes the face and voice of the Republican party as its leader.

Posted by: tomb on December 29, 2010 at 9:37 AM | PERMALINK

She can't even control childhood obesity in her own family. How does she intend to lead America?

Posted by: Ron Byers on December 29, 2010 at 9:40 AM | PERMALINK

I'm undecided about whether Palin in 2012 would be a good thing for Dems. Recall that Goldwater in 1964 led, more or less directly, to Nixon in 1968-- and that Goldwater fans in '64 kept at it until they won with Reagan in '80. And the risks are more serious-- Goldwater was wrong about a lot of things, but he was not merely a con man playing to deluded and resentful voters. If Palin's politics eventually prevails 20 years after a big defeat, we're all in deep doodoo.

Posted by: MattF on December 29, 2010 at 9:44 AM | PERMALINK

Palin has weirdly co-opted the state into her personal grievance and resentment, identifying herself with it ("Sarah Palin's Alaska") and wrongly characterizing criticism of herself as criticism of Alaska and Alaskans. Her account of the Katie Couric interview is revealing - she claims Couric wanted to know what "people up in Alaska" read; in fact, Couric was only asking about her.

Palin's defensive boosterism of Alaska has the ring of a transplanted high school student continually bragging about the virtues of the school she left behind.

if a public figure who behaved so clownishly at the same time claimed to be representative of the place I lived in, I'd loathe her myself, politics aside.

Posted by: g on December 29, 2010 at 9:44 AM | PERMALINK

Please stop.

Steve, we know all that anyone needs to know about Sarah Palin. Please stop writing about this moron.

Once more... please stop writing about this moron.

And just for emphasis... please stop writing about this moron.

Posted by: Rochester on December 29, 2010 at 9:44 AM | PERMALINK

I'm with Rochester.

If it is true there is no such thing as bad publicity, then we need to give her none.

Posted by: martin on December 29, 2010 at 10:00 AM | PERMALINK

PALINaroundwithterrorists is my # 1 choice. My son draws political cartoons and she's perfect. He had a heyday with the 2008 election with McAce and PALINaroundwithterrorists. The ticket i'd hope for would be Newt and PALINaroundwithterrorists. That one would be great no matter which one were to win the top slot. What fun...

Posted by: stevio on December 29, 2010 at 10:02 AM | PERMALINK

I think MattF has it right. Palin most likely represents the nose of the reactionary forces now controlling the Republican Party. We ignore this phenomenon at our peril.

Thus, I would urge Rochester to get a grip, and ignore the Palin articles, if you need to. For lib/progressives, Palin is a crisis: a danger and an opportunity.

Her cartoonishness and personal failures give a good handle for taking on the direction the US Republican Party has gone - IF WE DON'T MAKE IT PERSONAL. Attack "Sara Palin" and you're picking on a defenseless little woman; you're a sexist antifeminist pig; you're just jealous.

Attack the positions, world view, "facts" and attitudes of the right wing in general, basing the attacks on Palin's antics - but without referring to her in any way, other than as "the Republicans" - could bring them all down.

It's what the right wing has been doing for 30-40 years now, and it works just fine for them.

Posted by: zandru on December 29, 2010 at 10:07 AM | PERMALINK

I don't care what anyone says, I still want to call her "The Whore of Babblin On," because that's what she is.

Also, too, Alaskans may have taken a look at her TV show, and since they know her best, realized how much BS propaganda she was laying on viewers.

Posted by: c u n d gulag on December 29, 2010 at 10:11 AM | PERMALINK

At the time when she abdicated her responsibility to the people of Alaska, the one voice I was really interested in hearing was the voice of the Alaskan Republican who voted for her, in good faith, because they thought she would be a good governor. I never heard it. My hypothesis at the time was that the Alaska conservative base would feel betrayed by her bolting to the lower 48. It looks like that may have happened. If she runs in 2012, the money coverage will be of Alaskan conservatives.

Posted by: BrendanInBoston on December 29, 2010 at 10:13 AM | PERMALINK

Palin is what the medical field calls a self-limiting condition.

Going in, +50% unfavorables, and 100% name recognition equals zero upside potential.

She peaks the day she announces.

Posted by: Davis X. Machina on December 29, 2010 at 10:14 AM | PERMALINK

Familiarity breeds contempt.

Most people wish she would just go away that that time would expire on her 15 min of fame. Of course the more visible she is the more people are exposed to the epic levels of stupidity and narcissism.

Posted by: ET on December 29, 2010 at 10:15 AM | PERMALINK

Your excerpt left out a huge source of Alaskan disappointment: Palin's trying to foist Joe Miller on them.

You will recall Lisa Murkowski's successful write-in bid and Joe Miller's ugliness in challenging mispelled votes (of clear intent).

Agree with commenters Rochester and zandru: less attention to Palin personally (if possible when MSM serves her up constantly) but more pushback against her vile ideology.

Posted by: Elizabelle on December 29, 2010 at 10:27 AM | PERMALINK

"...Republicans see her favorably by only a 60/30 margin..."

Palin had problems with Alaska Republicans even before she ran for VP. First, she alienated the establishment by teaming up with Joe Miller in 2008 in a failed bid to oust the state GOP chairman. She lost support from pro-business conservatives by enacting a tax hike on the oil industry. She lost support from social conservatives by failing to roll back benefits for same-sex partners or supporting anti-abortion legislation.

If Sarah Palin had never met John McCain, and if she had remained in office, she likely would've been primaried out this year.

Posted by: Grumpy on December 29, 2010 at 10:37 AM | PERMALINK

According to family in Alaska, they don't like her because when she left office in the middle of negotiating the pipeline, the oil/gas industry claimed that the new governor would have to start over with negotiations thus effectively cutting off the additional money the citizens of Alaska would receive from the oil/gas industry.

Posted by: Julene on December 29, 2010 at 10:47 AM | PERMALINK

Is Al or someone else going to refutiate the negative numbers presented in this item?

Posted by: Ted76 on December 29, 2010 at 11:01 AM | PERMALINK

In completely unrelated news (O.M.G. you cannot believe how unrelated; don't even think it is related news, because it is not), Bristol Palin has purchased a house in Arizona, home of Great American John McCain and trillions of glue-huffing, head-lopping Messicans, and will be attending Arizona State University.

Posted by: Perspecticus on December 29, 2010 at 11:28 AM | PERMALINK

The U.S., despite the inanity towards which it is reaching in its political discourse, will never elect Sarah Palin president, there aren't enough sufficiently clueless people for that to ever happen - you would have to institute the Idiocracy overnight. It will take more than the time left before the primaries.

And thank goodness for that.

Posted by: SteinL on December 29, 2010 at 11:36 AM | PERMALINK

My guess is that Benen is perfectly happy giving Palin publicity because he wants her to run -- and presumably lose -- against Obama. The clear CW in Dem circles is that Palin is easily beatable. Others, such as Huckabee or Pawlenty, may be equally odious in their own way. But they have more gravitas than Caribou Barbie.

My take is that Dems should be careful what they wish for. For those who assume that any particular Republican is unelectable, I suggest you meet the new governor of Florida. Florida Dems were presumably thrilled when Rick Scott was the GOP nominee. They are considerably less thrilled now.

I would assume that anyone who makes it through the GOP primary will be a formidable candidate in the general election. Hoping for a Palin nomination is to invite disaster.

Posted by: square1 on December 29, 2010 at 11:44 AM | PERMALINK

@martin: the only negative publicity is the obituary. Unfortunately, she hasn't reached that point in her non-existence yet.

Posted by: PJ on December 29, 2010 at 12:41 PM | PERMALINK

square1, I regret to say you're incorrect. Palin is sui generis--she has no chance, at all, of being elected president. Absolutely zero. She has never made a policy statement evincing intelligent, independent analysis, and the only time she held an executive position that might conceivably qualify her for presidential consideration, she quit it for no coherent reason. I think she has almost as little chance of winning the Republican nomination, but if she does, welcome to President Obama's guaranteed second term.

Posted by: Vineyarder on December 29, 2010 at 2:40 PM | PERMALINK

Alaskans are not likely to soon forget the disastrous and infantile behavior of the Quitter Governor during the last legislative session before she quit.
It was cartoonist.
Also, too, remember Alaska is a very Republican state so that 60/30 margin apples to most of the population.

Posted by: Marnie on December 29, 2010 at 9:40 PM | PERMALINK



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