Our newest national poll finds that Sarah Palin has actually gained in popularity but hurt her prospects for some day being elected President since announcing she will resign early as Governor of Alaska last week.
46% of Americans view Palin favorably, with 45% holding a negative opinion of her. In monthly surveys conducted between April and June her favorable rating was in the range of 42-43%.
The slight increase in popularity is fueled by the number of Republicans with a positive view of her increasing from 75 to 79%. She is static with independents and slightly down with Democrats.
When it comes to whether she's fit to be President though, 55% of voters in the country say no with just 37% in the affirmative. And asked specifically how her early resignation affects their inclination to some day support her for the White House, 57% of respondents say it makes them less likely to do so compared to 30% who say it makes them more likely to vote for her.
Here are some other key findings from the poll:
-Only 19% of moderates think Palin is fit to be President.
-She has a +8 net favorability rating with men but a -6 one with women.
-Despite her overall popularity with Republicans only 68% of them think she is cut out to be chief executive.
-Among voters with a favorable opinion of her 21% do not say she is fit to be President. Among voters with an unfavorable opinion of her only 1% say she is fit to be President. Both of these numbers present problems for Palin. The first one shows that even among a decent chunk of voters who like her they don't think she's suited to be leader of the free world. The second one shows that there's little hope of her earning the respect of her detractors. For instance many Democrats, while holding an unfavorable opinion of John McCain, would still say that he is fit to be President. But when it comes to Palin they don't like her or take her particularly seriously.
What does it mean? She's absolutely beloved by the party base and there's no doubt she can be a hit for years to come at fundraisers and GOTV rallies. And she may even be popular enough with Republicans to score the party's nomination in 2012 if she wants it. But national polls we conducted between March and June showed her trailing Barack Obama by an average of 16 points, worse than Mike Huckabee, Mitt Romney, and even Newt Gingrich. And the numbers within this most recent poll would seem to further confirm that barring some major rehabilitation of her image, nominating her in 2012 would be a GOP death wish.
I doubt she'll run in 2012 but if she does my guess is that she only ends up getting nominated if Barack Obama's reelection seems inevitable and Republicans just want to vote for someone who makes them feel good, ala Barry Goldwater in 1964. If they think they have a real chance of winning they'll probably nominate someone who is perceived to be more electable.
We're also going to be looking at perceptions of Palin in some individual states over the next few weeks, beginning with Minnesota on Friday.
Full results here