AP poll: Palin’s favorable rating highest in almost a year

Actually, Rasmussen put her favorables at 48 percent back in September, but Nate Silver’s argued at length lately that Ras polls showing rosy numbers for a Republican should be taken with a goodly chunk of salt. Toss that result out and the last time she hit 46 percent was all the way back in December 2009. One poll doesn’t make a trend, but between the election buzz surrounding the tea party, the debut of her new show, and the relentless souring of America on all things Democrat, it’s worth flagging this now to see whether other polls replicate the result in the next few weeks.

The AP’s dopey takeaway from the results, incidentally? Palin is “polarizing,” in case you hadn’t heard.

Palin, the former Alaska governor and 2008 vice presidential nominee, is the best-known and most divisive of the bunch. In the wake of her high-profile role in endorsing candidates all over the country, 46 percent of Americans view her favorably, 49 percent unfavorably, and 5 percent don’t know enough about her to form an opinion…

In terms of winning the 2012 nomination, the question is how Republican-leaning Americans view the contenders. Palin comes out on top. Among adults who identify themselves as Republicans or GOP-leaning independents, 79 percent view her favorably, and 17 percent unfavorably.

These findings worry many Republican officials. The poll suggests Palin might be able to win the nomination. But among independents_they could be the deciding factor in the general election — just 43 percent hold a favorable view of Palin, compared with 61 percent with a positive view of Obama.

Those overall figures are similar to where she was at late last year. Huckabee’s current net favorables among Republicans actually top hers, if only slightly: He clocks in at 74/10, numbers so rosy that I’m starting to think he might end up running even if he’s otherwise inclined not to just because he consistently polls so well. (Ross Douthat calls him “persistently underestimated” and notes that, per PPP, he’s actually the early frontrunner in Pennsylvania, of all places.) As for Romney, he’s at 64/18 among GOPers, fully 15 points behind Palin in favorables and a point ahead in unfavorables. Given the albatross of RomneyCare around his neck, I’m not sure whether to consider that a moral victory or an early warning sign that he’s going to flame out. As for Mitch Daniels, who’s apparently getting closer and closer to declaring, he’s at 24/13 with 63 percent saying they don’t know enough about him yet. Someone knows something about him, though, if his unfavorables already exceed Huckabee’s, and I’ve got a hunch I know why. That “truce” on social issues is going to hover over him every minute of the campaign, huh?

Via PalinTV, here she is talking about being “in it to win it” — if she ends up being in it. Exit question: Given the losses by Angle, O’Donnell, Ken Buck, and, perhaps, Miller in her home state, will she take that as a sign that maybe America’s not ready to elect a tea-party president yet and that 2016 (when the GOP won’t have to run against an incumbent) is a better bet? Or does the virtual certainty of having to face Christie and Rubio in that primary mean that it’s now or never?

Update: Speaking of tea-party presidents, Rick Santorum claims that there are only two candidates in the field who can realistically claim that mantle. Gary Johnson — and him.