Flash – Palin Damaged Among Anti-Palin Republicans!
posted at 6:25 pm on July 8, 2009 by Dafydd ab Hugh
In a shocking turn of events, a Rasmussen poll finds that among the group of Republicans least likely to vote for Sarah Palin under any circumstances, a plurality believes she hurt her chances by resigning as governor of Alaska. Even more stunningly, among those GOPs most likely to vote for her before the move, she is least damaged.
You could knock me over with a sledge hammer:
Conservative Republicans are the least fazed by Palin’s decision to resign. Just 37% think she’s hurt her chances of winning the nomination, compared to 52% of moderate Republicans.
GOP voters who are Evangelical Christians are fairly evenly divided but a narrow plurality say Palin’s resignation helps her political chances more than hurts them. But the plurality of other Protestants (41%) and Catholics (46%) disagree, seeing the governor’s move as hurtful politically.
In general, the higher a Republican voter’s income level and educational achievement, the more likely he or she is to think Palin’s decision to resign will hurt her bid for the GOP nomination.
Sadly, Rasmussen didn’t break it down by whether a respondent previously supported Palin — did the move actually change any minds at all? The best we can do is note that the more elite a Republican is, the greater the chance that he never supported the anti-elite “Caribou Barbie” in the first place; and the more conservative a Republican is, the more likely he was to support Palin — before and after the resignation.
A Gallup poll found much the same non-effect: Those least likely ever to vote for Palin, especially Democrats, are the ones most likely to say her resignation made them less likely. (What, less than zero?)
My read on these polls is that it’s relentlessly obvious and quotidian: If you don’t like somebody in the first place, you’re probably irritated by everything she does, including how she brushes her teeth. But if you like her, you seek benign explanations for every action, no matter how bizarre it would otherwise be — if done by somebody you dislike.
The conclusion I draw is: Sarah Palin’s resignation has not hurt her one bit. By the time she runs for either (a) the presidency in 2012 (which I have always thought highly unlikely) or (b) the U.S. Senate against Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK, 58%*) in 2010 (which makes much more sense to me; but I reiterate) — the fact that she resigned from the governorship in 2009 will be meaningless, except as a “shibboleth” to distinguish supporters from detractors.
* For the benefit of the new readers brought in by Hot Air — both of you — the percent given for sitting members of Congress is, roughly speaking, their “ideology index,” how closely they track the prevailing ideology of their parties: the ACLU’s “liberalness” score for Democrats, and the American Conservative Union’s “conservativeness” score for Republicans. So a Republican with a 90% rating is much more conservative than one with a 58%, while a Democrat with a 100% is much more liberal than one with a 72%.
By the same coin, the resignation has not helped Palin win supporters; but it has freed her up to run hard against Murkowski in the primaries, should she wish… something she really couldn’t do as the sitting governor, as that would be unseemly.
Given the immediate-impression response, I believe the pros far outweigh the cons for Palin making the move she did: Elite and moderate Republicans, and of course Democrats, have yet another reason to dislike her; but they were always going to be her biggest problem anyway, and there is no real change. She hasn’t lost her conserative base.
But she will be free to travel all around the country giving speeches, fundraising for other Republicans, maybe even doing a television or radio show; and of course, free to run hard against RINO Lisa Murkowski, the only (politically) surviving member of the Alaska old-boy troika.
When Lisa’s father Frank Murkowski resigned his Senate seat after being elected governor, one of his first official acts was to appoint his daughter to the Senate seat he had just abandoned. Besides the Murkowskis, the third member of the troika was “Senator for life” Ted Stevens; but he lost his Senate seat the election following his conviction — after prosecutorial misconduct — in a corruption trial. (Which doesn’t make him innocent, just not proven guilty; not being an organ of the American judicial system, I am not obliged to consider everyone “innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.” Bill Ayers and O.J. Simpson spring to mind.)
If Sarah Palin sees one of her life missions as ridding Alaska of the last vestige of that circle of sump and porkinstance, it would be extremely tempting to run against Lisa Murkowski… who was barely reelected in 2004, the one time she actually ran for the United States Senate. As I wrote in the previous lizardian post linked above:
Even with the pull of Stevens and Murkowski, then the most powerful pols in Alaska, [Lisa Murkowski] barely squeaked out a minority victory over former Alaska Gov. Tony Knowles, 48.62 to 45.51. Had 4,800 votes gone the other way, she would have been defeated without ever having been elected to that seat. This does not inspire confidence that she can pull it off again next year, even against the same candidate.
So (fingers crossed, as I’m very much a Palinista) the resignation does not so far appear to have hurt her among her core constituents; and I suspect that when it comes down to it, even most Republicans who are put off by Palin will vote for her against almost any Democrat. In Alaska, that means that if she knocks off Murkowski in the primary, I think she will win the general… probably with a greater victory margin that Murkowski would, assuming she even could.
And if I’m wrong, and Palin does run for president in 2012 — perhaps she’ll end up in the VP slot again; but this time on a ticket that is much more likely to win, since it isn’t 2008 — and the eventual nominee won’t be that “lovable conservative,” Sen. John McCain (R-AZ, 63%).
Cross-posted on Big Lizards…