Wither Sarah Palin (w/minor updates)
by Nathan Empsall, Mon Nov 16, 2009 at 04:14:30 PM EST
We haven't talked too much about
Governor Sarah Palin the last few weeks, and with good reason. Despite her incredibly splashy upcoming book tour, this woman does not pose much of a threat to the progressive movement or to the larger country's well-being. She may have a long and lucrative future as a windy and bitter pundit, but being the next Sean Hannity or Michelle Malkin is not the same as being the next Bob Dole or Ronald Reagan.
According to a CBS New Poll out today (n=873, Nov. 13-15, RDD, w/cell phones, +/-3% MOE), Palin has a lower approval rating than George W. Bush ever had.
Just 23 percent of those surveyed in a new CBS News poll have a favorable view of the former Alaska governor. That matches her favorable rating in July, when Palin announced she was resigning from her job as governor...
Most Americans do not want to see Palin run for president in 2012. Two in three say they don't want to see a Palin run, while 24 percent say they would like to see her jump into the race. Republicans are divided: Forty-four percent want Palin to run, but even more -- 48 percent -- do not.
Many presidential candidates start out with lower approval ratings than this, but few of them have such high name recognition - they have more places to go, more impressions left to form than does Palin. What's more, these numbers probably won't be helped by the intra-party controversies and fact checking articles surrounding her new book. The only way Palin could improve her standing among Republicans and Independents is to get serious about learning policy and less embattled when reporters dare ask follow-up questions, something she of the thin skin doesn't seem too inclined to do. It's one thing to get ticked when a comedian jokes about raping your child, it's another thing entirely to call a reporter "biased" for asking you why you're qualified to be our chief diplomat.
Walter Shapiro at Politics Daily argues that these numbers don't matter: with just 35% of Republican support, he says, she could win a crowded Republican primary. Maybe, but the Republicans have historically given the nomination to whoever's "turn" it is, and that would be either Mitt Romney or Mike Huckabee. Four of their past five nominees dating back to 1980 (McCain, Dole, Bush 1, Reagan) had previously run before - Palin has not. And while the field will be crowded, I don't think it will be so crowded that 35% wins. Fields winnow rapidly - by Super Tuesday last year, the Democrats and Republicans were each down to three.
Palin's chances of winning national office and shaping policy are slim to none, leaving her only with the ability to lead the fringe - and I'm not too worried about that, either. I've said many times that the tea party fringe's potential ability to inspire a loan nut to violence scares me far more than its ability to shape the nation's policy agenda. Palin may be one of the few establishment Republican leaders embraced by that fringe, but her rhetoric isn't as heated as some. No, whether it's policy or fringe leadership, the only time I'm going to spend worrying about Sarah Palin's national presence is the time it takes me to pick up my eyeballs from where they finished rolling across the room. For fringe leadership, Glenn Beck is worth watching, and I would worry about a Mitt Romney winning the GOP nomination, but for anything beyond small increases in GOTV, Sarah Palin is done.
The beauty of a Palin candidacy is that her shortcomings are so transparent. What may drive liberals nuts about a given conservative is often something independents will question or fail to see - see George W. Bush, first term. With Palin, we don't have that problem. Bob Schieffer agrees: