A couple of polls which came out yesterday tell an interesting tale, one which is very much at odds with the conventional wisdom the elite media and Beltway chatterers have peddled for the last several months.
Namely, that Sarah Palin is within a point of Barack Obama with respect to favorability ratings.
The Gallup Poll on Obama’s favorability was the first of the polls. It has Obama at 47 percent, an all-time low. A month ago, Obama was at 53 percent. He was at 52 percent last week after giving his Afghanistan speech, but apparently that bump receded in a similar manner to the president’s proposed troop surge in Afghanistan.
What’s more, Obama has emerged as an incredibly polarizing figure as president…
“Obama’s approval rating is 14% among Republicans, 42% among independents, and 83% among Democrats. Compared to his ratings in early November, when he averaged 53% job approval overall, his ratings are down three points among Democrats, seven points among independents, and four points among Republicans.”
Gallup’s findings parallel those of Rasmussen’s daily tracking poll for today, which have Obama at an overall 47 percent approval rate and a 52 percent disapproval. Rasmussen’s approval index, wherein strong approvals and compared with strong disapprovals, hangs at -11, with 38 percent strongly disapproving of the president and only 27 percent strongly approving.
Those are not good numbers. With Rasmussen finding Obamacare as a loser by a 51-41 count (Gallup finds a 49-44 margin against it, and that America disapproves of Obama’s handling of health care by a 53-40 count) and with two-thirds of the public doubting that the unemployment rate will improve over the next year, it doesn’t really look like Obama has any upside out there with his major policy initiatives, either.
On the other hand, here comes Sarah Palin.
CNN released a poll yesterday which showed Palin’s approval rating is now 46 percent, against a 46 percent disapproval. That sent the Los Angeles Times into a double-take, as the paper noted Palin was essentially neck-and-neck in the nation’s esteem.
So, is an Obama-Palin matchup in the offing?
Hard to say. Palin could very well stumble and fall before the 2012 GOP primaries. But she can’t be discounted; unlike Obama and lots of other politicians, the American people seem to be warming to her the more exposure she gets. And it’s not like she hasn’t been through the fire – every wart Palin has on her political body has been fully and painfully pored over by an unfriendly media, and still she’s made as many friends as enemies. Palin’s book is selling extremely well, her book tour is a rousing success and she’s on a string of highly-successful TV interviews which wiped out a good bit of the sting of the Charlie Gibson and Katie Couric debacles last year.
Palin’s record of unconventional choices and overachievement against elite expectations make her one of the more formidable political figures around. In this manner she’s not dissimilar to Ronald Reagan, though it is far too early to say she has that kind of political future. It must be remembered, though, that Reagan was considered dangerous and stupid for most of his political life, and Reagan’s appeal was completely outside of the east coast establishment.
And while Reagan had to overcome bad press, he didn’t have anything even remotely close to the Palin Derangement Syndrome the left-wing media and political machines have spun up in the past year. For Palin to have survived that and still be as popular as not is extremely impressive.
Rasmussen’s poll had another interesting result yesterday. In a three-way generic matchup between the Democrats, Republicans and a “Tea Party” independent candidate, the third party outpolls the GOP 23 percent to 18 percent (the Democrats are at 36 percent), with 23 percent undecided. Palin is the most visible anti-establishment political figure in the country; she may not necessarily be defined as a “Tea Party” figure, but clearly her support comes from that group. As such, the power Palin holds within the GOP and the potential she has to bring the wayward Reagan Democrat coalition together is considerable.
All of this is not meant to indicate that the Hayride is promoting Palin as a presidential candidate; it’s far too early for that anyway. But what seems clear at this point is that the Republican establishment which has spent the last year dumping on Palin had better recognize that if they are to have any chance at gaining power in Washington in the near future they’re going to need her help. Palin may not be the party’s nominee in 2012, but if not it seems obvious that she’s going to have a say in who will.