If Palin is the Republicans' standard bearer in two years, the intuition is that, as the first female major-party nominee, she would help bolster Republicans' gains with women from 2010, but not so fast. The GOP may actually do better with the fairer sex if they nominated one of her male competitors.
A trend we have been noticing in our early Obama/GOP matchups at the national level is that Palin consistently performs worse with all female voters against Obama than both Mike Huckabee -- the strongest with women nationally -- and Mitt Romney, and not much better than Newt Gingrich. Because of this, Huckabee and Romney almost always do best overall against Obama.
Don't anticipate Palin's "Mama Grizzly" voters coming to her rescue in the primaries either. Huckabee and Romney almost routinely also beat Palin with Republican women. In our recent California poll, so did Gingrich, with Palin in fourth -- in fact, the only thing holding her in second place there is that she wins men with almost a quarter of the male vote. Such is her current strength with men and weakness with women that the only six states where she won the women vote are ones she also won overall -- so the key for her in winning the primaries may be actually persuading women, not turning them out to the polls.
All the results from the final set of six states will be released next week, but here's a chart of how Palin did with women in the Republican primary matchups in our 18 final 2010 polls, compared to how she did with men:
|State||Women %||Place||Men %||Place|
|New Hampshire||8||Tied 3rd||12||Tied 2nd|
On average, Palin does only 2 points better with men than women, and she averages 2nd place in both genders, but Romney and Huckabee tend to be strong with both men and women, and sometimes considerably stronger than Palin, so her weakness with her own gender is more glaring when it comes to tallying the final results.
Ironically, and luckily for her, men outnumber women in the GOP primary electorate. But one could also argue that this could be a high point for Palin for two reasons:
- She is the most visible and well known candidate of the eight tested, and as the campaign begins in earnest next spring, the others will no doubt catch up on the name recognition front.
- These polls were conducted with the 2010 electorate that drew out so many of the Tea Party supporters that she worked hard to make her base. Whether they dominate a presidential-year primary electorate is an open question.