Wither Sarah Palin (w/minor updates)

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:

Tags: Bob Schieffer, Sarah Palin (all tags)



Re: Whither Sarah Palin

The huge, gigantic elephant in the middle of the room: If Sarah Palin was 62, weighed 250 pounds and looked like Phyllis Diller none of this endless bullshit about her would matter to any of us...or any of them.

Did we create Sarah Palin before or after she created us?

How much more depressing will this get? I know: we've barely scratched the surface.

by george walton 2009-11-16 04:30PM | 0 recs
Re: Whither Sarah Palin

She'll run as the nominee of the teabag party...

by LordMike 2009-11-16 04:59PM | 0 recs
Re: Whither Sarah Palin

For someone with a favorable rating of 23%, she is going to sell an awful lot of books!

by Steve M 2009-11-16 05:22PM | 0 recs
Re: Whither Sarah Palin

Fiction always does well.

My mom watched her on Oprah, she can't stand her (both Palin & Oprah) but no one wants to miss a train wreck.

by vecky 2009-11-16 05:53PM | 0 recs
Re: Whither Sarah Palin

There is a Liz Phair song that goes, "It's nice to be liked, but it's better by far to get paid."  Indeed.

by Steve M 2009-11-16 06:01PM | 0 recs
Re: Whither Sarah Palin

23% of 300 million is 69 million... I'd be overjoyed if my first book sold even .5% of 69 million copies...

Palin's base is fanatical and loyal, which means she's a factor, but it's small, so she's not a big factor.

by Nathan Empsall 2009-11-16 05:54PM | 0 recs
Queen Esther

Small but hard like a nail, here's an interesting take from Max Blumenthal:

If Palin is indeed a cancer on the GOP, why can't the Republican establishment retire her to a quiet life of moose hunting in the political wilderness? Why has her appeal only increased in the wake of her catastrophic political expeditions? Why won't she listen to, or abide by, conventional political wisdom?

The answer lies beyond the realm of polls and punditry in the political psychology of the movement that animates and, to a great degree, controls, the Republican grassroots -- a uniquely evangelical subculture defined by the personal crises of its believers and their perceived persecution at the hands of cosmopolitan elites.

By emphasizing her own crises and her victimization by the "liberal media," Palin has established an invisible, indissoluble bond with adherents of that subculture -- so visceral it transcends any rational political analysis. As a result, her career has become a vehicle through which the right-wing evangelical movement feels it can express its deepest identity in opposition both to secular society and to its representatives in the Obama White House. Palin is perceived by its leaders -- and followers -- not as another cynical politician or even as a self-promoting celebrity, but as a kind of magical helper, the God-fearing glamour girl who parachuted into their backwater towns to lift them from the drudgery of everyday life, assuring them that they represented the "Real America."

Max Blumenthal - How Sarah Palin Made Herself Indispensable While Destroying the Republican Party Huffington Post 15 Nov 09

Well worth reading in its entirety.  His point is that criticism and ridicule just entrenches her support among the evangelical Right as they share the same emotional isolation she does from 'mainstream' society on the grounds of her overweening religious zealotry and her experience of personal crisis.  Perhaps she is now intentionally seeking that criticism from her party and the media to further ingratiate herself with her 'base.'  If we let these people corner the market on patriotism it would be a great error.  The big secret is these 'real Americans' are just an overempowered but cranky fringe group largely committed to social and religous bigotry.

My concern about this 23% is that a rump and activist Republican party could still sabotage the mechanisms of government, that was Krugman's point.  And that's beginning to strike me as exactly the Tea Party's intention.  'Give us our country back...  or we'll break it into a thousand pieces and nobody will have it.'

by Shaun Appleby 2009-11-16 07:58PM | 0 recs
Re: Queen Esther

There are those who believe that she is sent by God. I touched on this last night in my post but she sees her rise from hockey mom to small town mayor to Governor to VP pick as orchestrated by a divine power.

Michael Reagan in a letter he wrote back right after the GOP convention entitled "Welcome Back Dad" made a reference to the effect that she was heaven sent. Not figuratively but literally. There is a potent mix of evangelicalism and politics.

But this isn't really new. This is just a morphing of a deep-seed angst in American political life.  Furthermore part of American political culture is a heightened sense of anti-statism. The mistrust of govt run deeps and I am not sure how one changes that aspect of the political culture.

by Charles Lemos 2009-11-16 09:03PM | 0 recs
Re: Queen Esther

In a nation where 44% of the adult population believes 'God created Man in present form' this is apparently not an obstacle to political credibility or a trivial problem.  It seems we have a lot of work ahead of us:

by Shaun Appleby 2009-11-16 09:28PM | 0 recs
Re: Queen Esther

No easy answers.

I've spent a fair bit of time in "fly-over America" and I can see the angst in small town America. I was down in Bentonville, AR for a Wal-Mart analyst meeting. I took advantage to drive up to Springfield, MO to go look at grocery stores (I covered food retail). I finished early enough that I decided to drive over to NE Oklahoma. I had never been and so headed in that direction. I got hungry just as I crossed into SE Kansas. I saw an exit for a town and it was a few miles off the Interstate. I drove past a number big box retailers on a strip. I remember a Dairy Queen but not much in the way of food really so I headed towards the downtown. There was no downtown. Five blocks of boarded up businesses. These people have lost their livelihoods to Home Depot, Lowe's, Wal-Mart etc. But somehow that's not who they blame really. They blame Washington.

Family farms are a rare breed now. Small businesses under pressure from big box retail. Manufacturing jobs scarce because the Reagan economic model required breaking the power of the unions.

And on top of all of this, there are the cultural factors. Mainstream Protestant sects on the wane, evangelicalism on the rise.

Moreover, these people aren't like the Amish and Mennonites who live in their own separate world. These people feel that we have to live by their rules. The belong to proselytizing sects after all and there are all sorts of Biblical mandates that require our conversation to their beliefs. So we are in a trap.

And Krugman's right a rump can make the whole system ungovernable. Take California. The GOP has willfully destroyed the state to prove a point.

by Charles Lemos 2009-11-16 09:57PM | 0 recs
My grandparents

lived in Independence, KS.  Just about when they left in the mid-90's, Cessna was adding jobs.  However, they probably shed a bunch of farm jobs and business jobs.

by AZphilosopher 2009-11-16 10:32PM | 0 recs
Re: Wither Sarah Palin (w/minor updates)

Pedantic point: GWB was nominated his first time out.

by thesleepthief 2009-11-16 06:04PM | 0 recs
Re: Wither Sarah Palin (w/minor updates)

Duh. Thanks.

by Nathan Empsall 2009-11-16 06:05PM | 0 recs
Re: Wither Sarah Palin (w/minor updates)

Wow. That was the most solid analysis of Palin I have ever seen on TV. Bob needs to step it up like that more often.

by Lolis 2009-11-16 07:28PM | 0 recs
Re: Wither Sarah Palin (w/minor updates)

The point of whether Palin can win the nomination is a lot less clear cut... making predictions so far out is difficult. A LOT will depend on momentum - can she win IOWA, I guess NH will be seceded to Romeny, so it will be can she win South Carolina, Florida, etc... Also consider who is her base - will Huckabee steal votes from her, costing her wins among he natural evangelical base of supporters?

Another point is that she may run on ticket as VP again. If the winner needs to shore up his right flank, he may pick her same as McCain did. Or she may sit it out till 2016...

by vecky 2009-11-16 09:34PM | 0 recs


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