Has the United States reached peak Palin? In other words, are US voters now showing a declining interest in former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, meaning her political fortunes are sliding downwards?
That’s the implication of a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Annenberg poll, which finds that 54 percent of Americans now say they’ve heard enough from Ms. Palin. They’d prefer she speak up less, according to survey findings.
This finding fits with what some left-leaning pundits are saying about Palin’s recent call for President Obama’s impeachment, in which she compared the nation to a battered wife. The ex-Alaska governor feels her audience slipping away, goes this theory, and is resorting to increasingly inflammatory speech in an effort to rebuild her influence.
Palin “will do or say just about anything to get attention and feed bloody red met to what’s left of her following,” wrote Ed Kilgore Tuesday at The Washington Monthly’s “Political Animal” blog.
Well, maybe. It’s true that she’s gone from a major party presidential ticket to a paid Fox News pundit to the star of a cable TV hunting show. That’s not exactly an upward career trend.
But don’t cry for her, Wasilla. Sarah Palin will continue to be a big draw on the political celebrity market. There is a large segment of voters that still sees her in a very favorable light. As we noted when talking about her impeachment call Tuesday, many Americans feel the US is slipping away from strict constitutional governance. They approve of her rhetoric, whether it’s directed at President Obama or establishment Republicans she excoriates as feckless.
Look a bit deeper into the NBC poll numbers to see what we mean. Her disapproval is driven mostly by Democrats, two-thirds of whom wish she would go away. So do a majority of independents.
But only about 40 percent of Republicans want her to stop speaking, according to NBC data. That means a majority of the GOP still will listen to what she has to say. That’s a lot of people, particularly for somebody who’s not exactly famous for reaching out to the other party.
Other surveys show she still has a strong brand within the GOP, if not universal support. A Public Policy Polling survey of Iowa in May found that 68 percent of GOP voters in that important caucus state have a favorable opinion about Palin. Among Republican celebrities, only Mike Huckabee rated higher.
In December, Palin tied for third in Gallup’s annual “Most Admired Woman” poll, behind Hillary Clinton and Oprah. OK, she was only named by 5 percent of respondents, but it’s an open-ended poll, so that’s actually pretty good. Plus, the person she was tied with was Michelle Obama.
Politico’s media critic, Dylan Byers, writes that Palin finally seems poised “to retreat into a relative wilderness.” We bet that “wilderness will be somewhere she’ll still manage to get lots of attention for her political endorsements and opinions.