Will 'petty' bio win Sarah Palin some sympathy?

It’s possible that the author of the new Sarah Palin biography – who rented the house next to the Palins' home in Wasilla, Alaska – has helped the 'mama grizzly' more than hurt her.

Stephan Savoia/AP
Former vice presidential candidate and Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin addresses a Tea Party Express Rally in Manchester, N.H., Monday afternoon, Sept. 5.

Sarah Palin is the subject of a racy new biography, if you haven’t heard. “The Rogue: Searching for the Real Sarah Palin” by Joe McGinniss contains allegations that the former governor of Alaska has used drugs, committed infidelities, and is a bad parent, among other things.

Predictably it’s drawn a strong response from the Palin camp.

The book is nothing but “disgusting lies, innuendo, and smears,” said husband Todd Palin in a statement issued Thursday.

Will the book sink Sarah or win her some sympathy? It’s possible that Mr. McGinness – who rented the house next door to the Palins' in Wasilla, Alaska – will help the "mama grizzly" more than hurt her.

First of all, the initial reviews are less than kind. You can see the word “scathing” from where you’re standing.

Much of “Rogue” is “dated, petty, and easily available to anyone with Internet access,” wrote New York Times reviewer Janet Maslin.

“Mr. McGinniss used his time in Alaska to chase caustic, unsubstantiated gossip about the Palins, often from unnamed sources like ‘one resident’ and ‘a friend,’ ” writes Ms. Maslin.

Even the supposed salacious revelations are fairly mundane for a person of Ms. Palin’s generation, wrote Los Angeles Times reviewer David Ulin.

Palin may be narcissistic and unqualified for office, but “I want more than innuendo to make that point,” Mr. Ulin concludes.

Second, the McGinniss book isn’t even the only pointed Palin tome coming out this month. Ex-almost-son-in-law Levi Johnston, father of Bristol Palin’s child, is publishing “Deer in the Headlights: My Life in Sarah Palin’s Crosshairs” on Sept. 20.

Getting lumped in the same book racks (or news stories) as Mr. Johnston, whose tabloid exploits are approaching Lindsay Lohan levels, won’t help McGinniss gain credibility. It might also cut into his sales.

Finally, we’ll note that racy bios aren’t Palin’s biggest problem anyway. Her biggest problem is that some of her poll numbers are slowly deflating, calling into question her political future.

According to Gallup, Palin’s Positive Intensity Score (the percentage of people who really like her, minus the percentage of people who don’t) has dropped by over one-third in the past month. Her current score is 10, which ties her for fifth in the GOP presidential field.

A recent CNN/ORC poll put her support for the GOP nomination among Republican voters at 15 percent. That’s not great, though in the CNN survey her support has remained fairly steady since midsummer.

But some of her subsidiary numbers in the CNN poll are sinking. Only 6 percent of respondents now believe she will be the eventual nominee, down from 14 percent in June. At a time when “electability” is increasingly a GOP mantra, 6 percent consider her the best bet to defeat President Obama. And 9 percent believe her to be the best candidate to get the country’s economy moving again.

But she still does well among GOP voters who value scrappiness. Asked which candidate is most likely to fight for their beliefs, 23 percent picked Palin, putting her just behind Texas Gov. Rick Perry, the choice of 29 percent of those polled.

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