Sarah Palin's image problems have gotten even worse. A new CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll conducted January 14-16 (immediately after the controversy over her ham-handed response to the shootings in Arizona) finds that perceptions of Palin have declined significantly since October:
A new national poll indicates that 56 percent of all Americans have an unfavorable view of Sarah Palin, an all-time high for the former Alaska governor. That 56 percent unfavorable figure is up seven points from just before the midterm elections, according to a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll released Wednesday morning.
Thirty-eight percent of people questioned in the poll say they have a favorable view of the 2008 Republican vice presidential nominee, down two points from October.
...According to the survey, Palin's unfavorable rating is up 10 points among women, compared to just three points among men, and among independent voters, her unfavorable rating has grown a whopping 14 points.
A new USA Today/Gallup poll conducted during the same three-day period recorded nearly identical results (38% favorable, 53% unfavorable), though the estimated decline since the previous Gallup poll (November) was less dramatic.
If Palin is indeed considering running for president, it's worth noting just how unsuccessful she's been at building the necessary public profile. Since last year, I have been tracking her poll numbers relative to the most obvious comparison -- Hillary Clinton, another polarizing female politician. Clinton could never fully shed the high unfavorable ratings she acquired during her husband's presidency, but she worked hard to improve her image and maintained higher favorable ratings during the period before the Democratic primary campaign began in 2007. By contrast, Palin's ratings have been consistently worse during the comparable 2008-2011 period, and the gap between her and Hillary has widened dramatically in recent months (data from Gallup):
In this sense, Sarah Palin is more like Dan Quayle, a former vice president who never recovered from his image problems, than Hillary Clinton, who came within a few primary votes of being the Democratic nominee in a favorable electoral environment. Back in September, I argued that the the Intrade contract for a Palin run, which was then trading at 69%, was too high. It's now at 60%, but that still looks overpriced to me.
Update 1/20 6:59 AM: Andrew Sullivan points out that Palin's numbers among Republican are still competitive with other well-known presidential contenders:
Her unfavorables are indeed impressive. They just reached a new high in CNN's poll of 56 percent. But what I'd note as well is that her favorables remain at 38 percent, which is obviously concentrated in the GOP base. The poll of polls puts it at 35 percent - again roughly the core GOP vote. Huckabee is more popular as a person among Republicans, according to Gallup, but when you combine star power and favorability in the GOP, Palin is very much in the running:
Update 1/20 9:42 PM: Similarly, the new CBS/New York Times poll conducted January 15-19 puts Palin's ratings at 19% favorable/57% unfavorable, which is down from 22% favorable/48% unfavorable in early October.