With the news today that Sarah Palin is resigning, possibly to focus on a 2012 Presidential bid, what are her chances?
For the Republican nomination, at least at this early point, pretty good. For the general election, not so much.
Monthly national PPP surveys looking at the 2012 contest for President have consistently found Palin as the most popular of the likely Republican candidates with Republican voters. Around 75% of them have a positive opinion of her, ranking her above Mike Huckabee, Mitt Romney, and Newt Gingrich every time we've polled it.
When it comes to the general election though, she does the worst of the GOP contenders against Barack Obama. Our four surveys on it so far have shown her trailing the President by an average of 16 points nationally, an outcome that would likely give Obama well over 400 electoral votes.
Candidates can certainly grow a lot from polling conducted three years before an election- Obama himself did. The problem for Palin is that most voters have already formed an opinion about her. On average our polls have shown that only 9% of the electorate doesn't know enough about the former Vice Presidential candidate to view her either positively or negatively. That doesn't give her a lot of room to define herself as a fresh face to any meaningful swath of voters.
For her to get elected in 2012 she would have to change the minds of a significant number of independent and Democratic votes about her- and it's a lot easier to make a positive first impression than it is to change a negative one once it's already been formed.
It's going to give Republican voters some interesting choices- they like Palin the most, but many may also realize that nominating her is a general election death wish. More than usual this will set up a choice between likability and electability, as Mike Huckabee, Mitt Romney, and even Newt Gingrich fare better against Obama in our polling.
My guess is that Palin never holds elected office again.