Sarah Palin leads the GOP presidential pack for 2012

It’s more than two years away and we’re all enjoying summer, so what better time to talk about the Republican nominee for President in 2012? 'Are you crazy??' we hear you asking.

Rich Pedroncelli/AP
Sarah Palin holds out her palm to show the notes on it while speaking at a fundraising dinner at California State University, Stanislaus in Turlock, Calif. last month. The foundation arm of the cash-strapped California public university paid Sarah Palin $75,000 to speak at a 50th anniversary gala.

It’s more than two years away and we’re all enjoying summer – even the Obamas up in Maine – so what better time to talk about the Republican nominee for President in 2012?

“Are you crazy??” we hear you asking. But here at The Vote, we look for any excuse to riff on campaign politics, especially when it involves Republicans acting like Democrats – taking shots at one another and jostling for position.

The Gallup polling organization has just released its latest on likely presidential candidates’ popularity within the GOP. Not surprisingly, Sarah Palin leads all the guys with presidential aspirations (Mike Huckabee, Newt Gingrich, Mitt Romney, and Bobby Jindal) … not counting everybody in the US Senate, all of whom believe themselves to be presidential timber.

Palin’s at 76 percent “favorable” among Republicans – at least 10 percentage points higher than any of the guys.

It’s easy to see why. Although all of them except Jindal have political action committees trolling for dollars, SarahPAC already has a million-dollar war chest with which she’s able to support other Republicans and thereby gain party influence. She recently made $75,000 for giving a speech at the Stanislaus campus of California State University.

Her “mama grizzlies” line resonates with Republican and many independent women. Her message and rhetorical tone is very much in line with the “tea party” movement. Her best-seller “Going Rogue: An American Life” has sold more than 2 million copies, and a biography aimed at young readers is due out this fall.

But Palin also is a lightning rod figure, whose negatives are mounting up as well.

As Gallup puts it, “Her image was generally more positive than negative during most of the 2008 campaign, but has tilted more negative last year and this year.” Among all Americans (not just Republicans), Palin has “a decidedly mixed image: 44 percent rate her favorably and 47 percent unfavorably.”

Part of that, no doubt, is the continuing soap opera drama of the Palin family – this week it was the reuniting of Bristol Palin and Levi Johnston, Bristol’s former boyfriend and the father of her son.

Gingrich (another polarizing figure) has a similar favorable/unfavorable rating. But the other three – for the moment, at least – are viewed more favorably than unfavorably.

So that leaves the situation for 2012 very much in play. And it sets the scene for what undoubtedly will be intraparty sniping.

“She’s not a serious human being,” a Romney adviser said of Palin, according to Mark Halperin at Time. “If she’s standing up there in a debate and the answers are more than 15 seconds long, she’s in trouble.”

In a statement, the Palin camp quickly responded with reference to Ronald Reagan’s “eleventh commandment” – “Thou shalt not speak ill of any fellow Republican.”

On Twitter, Romney sort of apologized for his adviser’s jab at Palin: “TIME says unnamed advisors disparaged @SarahPalinUSA. Anonymous numbskulls. She’s proven her smarts; they’ve disproven theirs.”

See, isn’t this fun?


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Bristol Palin and Levi Johnston reunite: What it means for Sarah Palin

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