The key, I assume, is “leaners.” She always polls exceptionally well among Republicans and, especially, conservatives. The further left you move on the ideological spectrum, the more of a hit her numbers take. See, e.g., this Gallup poll from November showing her at cruising altitude among Republicans with an 80 percent favorable rating. Among independents, most of whom keep one foot planted in the center, it was … 35 percent. In the new WaPo poll, it’s 47 percent. Romney’s probably cleaning up among them. Cause for hope, then, for Palin fans in closed primaries: If the indies can’t or won’t vote, you’re in good shape.
I’m not sure how the “no opinion” numbers shake out. By now, everyone has an opinion of Palin; for most of them, I suspect, that opinion’s as hard as concrete. Huckabee and Romney have more room to grow, but since views of them are softer, there’s also room to tear them down via attacks on, say, RomneyCare and Huck’s clemency record. And since so much of the primaries is about momentum, there’s no reason to think Palin’s favorables wouldn’t boost if she ended up winning Iowa. Obviously she’d rather be in a different position, and this isn’t the only poll out today seeing a slide in her numbers over the last few months, but even unfavorables like that aren’t fatal. No matter what Ari Fleischer thinks.
Speaking of sliding numbers, the PPP poll linked above notes that Mitt is now pulling just 13 percent in Missouri despite having won 29 percent of the vote in 2008. Among “very conservative” voters, who make up the largest segment of the Republican primary electorate, just 10 percent support him. There’d better be an awful lot of “leaners” turning out on election day.