As Sarah Palin basks in both the cash of, and the love from the Tea Party, a new Washington Post poll reveals that her political popularity among the nation as a whole has never been lower. Conservative Republicans give her a 71% approval rating and tea partiers put her at 60%, but the nation as a whole gives her only a 37% approval rating, and a 55% disapproval rating.
The most striking number from the Washington Post poll was that only 17% of all Americans surveyed said that they held a strongly favorable view of the former Alaska governor. In contrast, 41% of respondents strongly disapproved of her. Palin’s rating with Independents mirrors her overall 37%-55% approval/disapproval rating. Her favorability rating gains one point with Independents to 38%, while her disapproval rating holds steady at 55%.
Palin is popular with the Tea Party crowd, as she has a 60% approval rating with them, but the Tea Party as a whole is more popular than Palin herself. With all adults surveyed the Tea Party has a 41% approval rating. Although the gap is small, it is possible that Palin’s lack of personal popularity could end up damaging the Tea Party movement in the eyes of the nation at large. The Tea Party movement, even with its recent run of negative publicity, remains more popular than Sarah Palin.
Palin’s approval ratings have remained in steady decline since October of 2008. Her book didn’t help. Her gig at Fox News has not helped, and it is safe to say that a reality show on the Discovery Channel is not going to revive the flat lined national political perception of her. America has made up its mind about Sarah Palin, and has all but closed the door on any White House ambitions that she might hold. Even the nationally polarizing Hillary Clinton was able to have an overall approval rating around 50% during the 2008 campaign. By the numbers, Palin is even more polarizing than Mrs. Clinton was.
The half a term governor of Alaska is a niche brand whose appeal is limited to Republicans. It would be a disaster for the Republican Party if Sarah Palin was their presidential nominee in 2012. A Palin nomination would virtually ensure not only an Obama reelection, but also an expansion of the Democratic majorities in Congress. Never in modern American electoral history has there been a less popular politician as seriously discussed as a presidential candidate. Palin may have no chance of winning but that might not stop the GOP from nominating her.