I was interested to see David Plouffe comment that the 2012 Republican Presidential nominee might come from outside the roster of the current top contenders. I don't know if it will or not, but I think for the GOP to win next time around it will have to be.
Sarah Palin, Mitt Romney, and Mike Huckabee have all been through a national campaign now. They're relatively well known. And they just aren't that popular. On our last round of 2012 polling all three had favorabilities in the 30s- 36% for Palin, 34% for Romney, and 33% for Huckabee. And while Palin had the most admirers she also had by far the most detractors with 51% of the country holding an unfavorable opinion of her.
Perhaps there's a way one of these folks can rebrand themselves to become more appealing but to me it looks more like Bob Dole in 1996 all over again- you nominate someone who's already proven to be a Presidential loser and you get results pretty similar to the last time around.
All three of these folks reinforce the negative perceptions that much of the country holds about the Republican Party. The GOP needs a fresh face that challenges people's assumptions about who Republicans are and is visibly not just going to be George W. Bush under another name. I don't know who that person is, but he/she needs to emerge if the party is going to win back the White House in 2012.