Sarah Palin has truly been in our face these past few months: a book, a book tour, television appearances (after signing on as a Fox News commentator), high-profile speeches. And it doesn't seem to have done her much good—in terms of public approval.
In December, Americans who worry about the chance—no matter how slight—of a Palin presidency received some shocking news: the woman who quit as Alaska governor came in second in Gallup's rankings of the most admired women in America. She almost placed first. (Hillary Clinton topped the list with 16 percent, Palin had 15 percent. Oprah Winfrey came in third, Michelle Obama, fourth.) Though the vote was divided up among a number of women—allowing a contender with a dedicated following to fare well—this was a surprisingly strong finish for Palin, suggesting that perhaps her recent blitz was boosting her public image.
Not so, according to a new ABC News/Washington Post poll. It finds that her public approval numbers are getting worse:
Palin's own ratings are weaker, apparently hurt rather than helped by her return to the spotlight. Fifty-five percent of Americans see her unfavorably, the most basic measure of a public figure's popularity, and 71 percent believe she's not qualified to serve as president, a position she said Sunday she'll consider seeking. Both negatives are at new highs.
...More problematic for Palin is that even in her own party 52 percent think she's not qualified for the presidency -- up by 16 points from an ABC/Post poll in November, shortly before the publication of her memoir, in which she criticizes the strategy of the 2008 Republican presidential campaign.
Far more Americans see Palin strongly unfavorably, 38 percent, than strongly favorably, 18 percent. Among independents -- swing voters in national politics -- just 36 percent see her favorably overall, vs. 53 percent unfavorably, and only 29 percent think she's qualified for the presidency.
It's not good sign for a potential candidate when she increases her public activity and the public comes to think worse of her. Palin may be much admired by a devoted band of supporters, but as most Americans see more of her, they believe she's not presidential material. Anyone who doesn't want Palin to become president ought to adopt a simple strategy: urge her to spend more time in the public spotlight.
See how Palin's actions as governor may lead to the evisceration of her state's public records laws.
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