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Rethinking Palin’s General Election Prospects

The conventional wisdom has been that, while Sarah Palin will be a leading contender for the 2012 GOP presidential nomination if she wants it, her chances in the general election would be less rosy because she is reportedly viewed unfavorably by most independents.  That’s persuasive logic if you don’t think about it too much. But today’s Rasmussen poll makes me realize that the relevant question for electability is not how independents view the GOP nominee.  Instead, it’s how independents view the GOP nominee relative to the Democratic nominee, Barack Obama.

On that score, Palin’s general election chances looks good. Rasmussen reports today that 59% of voters not affiliated with either party say their views are closer to Sarah Palin’s than to President Obama’s.  Overall, 52% of American voters feel ideologically closer to Palin, while only 40% feel closer to the President.

An additional finding from the poll should surprise no one.  Among the political class, 68% of voters have views more like Obama’s, while 63% of mainstream voters those outside the political class are closer to Palin.  Rasmussen classifies voters according to his Political Class Index, which is based on three survey questions.

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