PPP: Obama leads Palin by eight … in South Dakota?

I’m highly skeptical — this is a state the GOP’s won in every election since 1964 — but their sample doesn’t seem obviously skewed to me. The partisan breakdown is 48R/38D/14I; the sample in the state’s 2008 exit poll on election day was 42R/36D/22I. If anything, PPP skewed too heavily towards Republicans. The ideological sample is similarly in line. For PPP, it’s 43 percent conservative, 44 percent moderate, and 13 percent liberal. In 2008 on election day, the exit poll had it 35 percent conservative, 50 percent moderate, and 15 percent liberal. Again, PPP’s numbers tilt against Obama. And their polling of hypothetical Romney/Obama and Huckabee/Obama races seems credible. Mitt leads 46/40 and Huck leads 47/41 in a state McCain won by eight points.

If the GOP went with Newt Gingrich or Sarah Palin as its nominee Obama’s prospects for picking up the state would improve dramatically. Against Gingrich he holds a slight lead at 44-42 and pitted against Palin that increases to a somewhat remarkable 48-40…

Obama’s slightly unpopular in the state with 42% of voters approving of him and 49% disapproving. He’s ahead of both Gingrich and Palin though because they’re more unpopular than that. Gingrich’s favorability is a 31/43 spread and Palin’s is even worse at 37/55. Voters there are positive toward Huckabee, with 40% rating him favorably to 30% with a negative opinion, and a small plurality like Romney as well- 35% favorable, 34% unfavorable.

In the last two weeks we’ve found Palin up 1 point in Texas, up 1 point in Nebraska, and down 8 points in South Dakota. What those numbers indicate is that she would only really be safe in states that Republicans won by at least 20 points in 2008. And there weren’t very many of those. It’s becoming clearer and clearer that a Palin nomination would be Goldwater redux for the GOP.

PPP is Kos’s pollster, but remember that the Kos crowd rightly or wrongly wants to face Palin in 2012. If PPP is cooking its data to do the left’s bidding (which I have no reason to believe), it would theoretically be showing strong numbers for her in order to convince Republicans that she can win and they should therefore nominate her, no?

Meanwhile, in South Carolina, assuming DeMint doesn’t run, Huckabee’s the leader by six points over Romney(!). I’m actually surprised to see both of them in those positions: Huck’s appeal to a southern Christian electorate is obvious, but my sense has always been that SC is ground zero for “true conservatism” and Huck’s credentials on that point are, er, suspect. (Then again, SC elected Lindsey Graham, didn’t it?) And how did Mitt pull off second place? Isn’t he allegedly thinking of skipping the state altogether because it seems like a lost cause with such a crowded social-con field? Maybe Ben Smith is right: By the time 2012 rolls around, the courts may have solved his RomneyCare problems for him.

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