Palin Sees Dip in Popularity in Alaska, Rest of Nation

Alaska Governor Sarah Palin

Alaska Governor Sarah Palin

The Fairbanks Daily News Miner reports that Governor Sarah Palin has lost the support of Alaskan Democrats and Independents that were at one time a major part of her electoral base.  As more voters get to know Gov. Palin for her ethics violations, faux ‘Joe six-pack’ folksiness, religious fanaticism, secessionist connections and a secretive, restrictive administration governing Alaska connected to corruption, cronies, lobbyists and big oil, they are finding her to be a fraud and a hypocrite.  American voters are turned off by the McCain-Palin campaign of fear and divisiveness while Gov. Palin has been exposed as a mean spirited and vindictive politician who mixed personal financial gain and vendettas with her quest for political power.

Gov. Sarah Palin electrified the conservative base of the Republican party when she was first picked as Sen. John McCain’s vice-presidential running mate, but polls say she has become a polarizing figure since then in her home state.

Palin’s supporters regularly refer to her as the “most popular governor in America.” But while her approval rating remains sky-high among local Republicans, she’s lost the support of Democrats and independents who once formed a significant portion of her base.

“Before all this started, her approval rating was almost universally positive with independents,” said Ivan Moore, who often polls for Democrats. “She’s really taken a hit among Democrats and independents.”

Palin’s popularity with Alaska voters has dropped precipitously, from a high of roughly 90 percent this spring – long before she was selected to join the McCain ticket – to an approval rating now of around 60 percent.

Not bad for a governor, but nowhere near the support she enjoyed before making her debut on the national stage.

A statewide poll conducted Oct. 23 by Ann Hayes found about 63 percent of respondents have a favorable opinion of Palin, with 47 percent having a very favorable opinion.

Palin’s negatives are about 35 percent, according to the telephone survey of 400 likely voters with a margin of error of roughly 5 percentage points.

“She enjoyed a tremendous level of support, and it’s now beginning to seriously erode,” Hays said. “That’s a significant drop in that matter of time when you consider that you should be the home-state hero.”

A Rasmussen poll released Wednesday showed similar numbers, with a 61 percent favorable rating among Alaskans.

Palin’s popularity started to slide into the mid-70s in July when the dismissal of Public Safety Commissioner Walt Monegan first made headlines, according to separate polls by Moore and Hays.

But Palin’s popularity was back up to 80 percent by the time she was unveiled as McCain’s running mate at the end of August.

Hayes said her polling data shows the biggest loss of support for Palin was among independents, though she sees the governor falling in popularity with Democrats and Republicans, as well.

Marc Hellenthal, a pollster who regularly works with GOP candidates, said he sees a drop among Democrats and independents, but that Palin is gaining support among Republicans.

“She was the most popular politician with Democrats, but that’s not true anymore,” Hellenthal said. “She’s being viewed as more partisan now.”

State Rep. David Guttenberg, a Democrat from Fairbanks, echoed that sentiment.

“She’s no longer above the fray. She’s being mean and vindictive,” Guttenberg said. “If you’re a Democrat, she’s being phenomenally partisan. And if you’re a Republican, you’re pissed because she’s dragging down your presidential candidate.”

Even with the erosion of support among voters on the left, Palin still enjoys a 92 percent approval rating among registered Republicans in a very red state, Hellenthal said.

There are about 125,000 registered Republicans in Alaska, compared to roughly 77,000 registered Democrats. Both parties are dwarfed, however, by the nearly 263,000 undeclared or nonpartisan voters in the state, according to the state Division of Elections.

Palin’s growing partisanship could make her transition back to state politics – should McCain not win the White House – a potentially rocky one.

Rep. John Coghill, a Republican from North Pole, said it will be up to Palin to set the tone for working with state lawmakers after Tuesday. “A lot depends on how she returns to Alaska,” he said.

Coghill said Democrats have “burned up” a lot of goodwill with the governor over the Troopergate investigation. But there also remains some bad blood among some Republicans.

“There’s a difference between working with someone and being a ‘yes man,'” Coghill said. “I’m not interested in being a ‘yes man.'”

Coghill said the petroleum production tax and the natural gas line contract with TransCanada are issues that are likely to come up during the next legislative session beginning in January.

Guttenberg, a Democrat, agreed that relations between with the governor will likely be more strained when the Legislature reconvenes in January.

“The relationship is up to her,” he said. “The Democrats are not going to be so friendly anymore. She’s going to have to work harder for her priorities.”

“It’s going to be a different landscape for her completely,” Moore said. “She’s going to need to tap into a bunch of political skills that she hasn’t had to use before.

“Before she got by on her popularity, now she’s going to need to be more diplomatic.”

Moore said he’s not convinced the governor is up to the task.

“I don’t think she’s very practiced at admitting her faults and taking criticism well,” he said.

Palin Sees Dip in Popularity in Alaska, Rest of Nation


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