Palin vs. Romney

If Palin won the nomination, she would have a steep uphill climb as a general-election candidate. An average of recent polls shows that 54 percent of Americans have an unfavorable impression of her and only 32 percent view her favorably. She would also have the burden of having gone through a bruising primary in which she would have won with a message that turns off millions of upper-middle-class voters.

If, as seems more likely, Romney won the showdown, he would have alienated a large chunk of the party’s conservative base. He would therefore have to solidify core Republicans before, and sometimes at the expense of, trying to court independent voters. And he would have another problem as well. In his 2008 run, he showed almost no ability to win over middle-class voters. If he beat Palin, he would almost certainly have won with an affluent coalition inside the party and while being mocked as a blueblood. He would then have to turn around and win both downscale conservatives and middle-of-the-roaders…

If there are Republicans who would rather not see either Romney or Palin on the ticket, or just don’t want to see a bloody primary between them, they had better unite behind another candidate. And given the speed with which the primaries are approaching — the Iowa straw poll is in August — they had better do it fast.