Gotta figure her lead would be even bigger without Joe Miller in the field here.
Her nomination for the taking?
Alaska should be a top tier pick up opportunity for Senate Republicans next year…but their top choice of a candidate is Sarah Palin. 36% of GOP primary voters in the state say they’d like Palin to be their standard bearer against Mark Begich to 26% for Mead Treadwell, 15% for Dan Sullivan, and 12% for Joe Miller. Palin leads mostly based on her strength with ‘very conservative’ voters where she gets 43% to 20% for Treadwell, but she also leads him 28/25 with moderates.
The problem for Republicans with a Palin candidacy is that even though she is in good standing with the party base, voters overall don’t like her at all. She has a 39/58 favorability rating, including 33/64 with key independent voters. There’s a lot of division about how strong her ties to the state even are anymore- only 47% of voters consider her to still be an Alaskan while 46% don’t, and 37% of voters in the state think it would be more appropriate for her to run for the Senate from Arizona to 41% who say Alaska.
It all adds up to a 52/40 lead for Begich in a hypothetical match up with Palin. He leads by 21 points with independents, 56/35, and takes 20% of the Republican vote. It’s a slight improvement for Palin from February when we found her trailing Begich 54/38, but she’s very much in a hole.
Assuming half of Miller’s supporters would break for her if he dropped out, she’s above 40 percent without having run a single ad yet. The split among Alaska GOP primary voters:
She leads in four of five GOP ideological segments — including “very liberal” Republicans, where the equally conservative Joe Miller is second. That’s partly a function of name recognition, I assume, since she and Miller are the two most recognizable Republicans in the race. Huge advantage for her in a primary. As for the general:
The Democratic CW is that they’d love, love, love to run against Palin because their base hates her and would be sure to pony up for Begich and because independents remain leery of her. Those indie numbers are tough, but if she could shrink the 20 percent of Republicans who prefer him to her, she’d have a chance. That’s not unthinkable in a state as red as Alaska, especially since she’ll have plenty of ad money flowing in from her loyal supporters and some big-name endorsements from the national GOP. McCain owes her a favor after she campaigned for him in 2010; Ted Cruz would doubtless show up for her too, as might Rand Paul. Having her run would be good for the party’s chances to take back the Senate next year too, since lots of Democratic dough that might go to other vulnerable Dem incumbents will be sent north to try to help Begich stop Palin.
Look at it this way: What better chance will she have to reclaim political office than to take him on now? The only obvious alternative is to bide her time and then run as McCain’s replacement in Arizona once he retires. But who knows how long that’ll be, and how risky it’ll be for a staunch conservative by the time he quits given Arizona’s changing demographics. Even if her numbers in Alaska aren’t what they once were, there’s obviously still some goodwill there; her favorables among Republicans, at least, are 65/30. Her supporters are eager for her to run for something again. Why not now?