Much has been made of Sarah Palin’s impact in elections this year – and whether her endorsement was what made the difference for Joe Miller in Alaska, Christine O’Donnell in Delaware, and numerous other candidates.
But her stamp of approval may not always be a help, especially when it comes to the general election.
In the Field poll, 91 percent of respondents had an opinion of Palin, with 33 percent viewing her favorably and 58 percent unfavorably. Not surprisingly, Democrats have a highly negative view of her, by a margin of 8 to 1, and Republicans view her more positively – 74 percent favorable to 19 percent unfavorable. But independent voters also have an unfavorable view of Palin, 69 percent to 25 percent.
So what does this mean for Carly Fiorina, the Republican candidate for Senate who was endorsed by Palin in the California primary? The endorsement raised eyebrows at the time among some Republicans, given that Ms. Fiorina’s opponent in the primary, Chuck DeVore, had "tea party" support and was considered the more “conservative” candidate.
But Fiorina may do better to distance herself from Palin. Recent polls show her trailing Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer by about five percentage points, and support from independents – who seem less enchanted with Palin than primary voters – would be crucial to a Fiorina victory.
More broadly, the poll raises questions about how Palin’s influence in primary elections – which are characterized by a smaller, highly partisan electorate – will differ from November’s election. Stay tuned.