Ex-Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin is just about the only person who would lose Alaska to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in a head-to-head presidential election.
OK, so that’s only according to one poll, by Public Policy Polling. And, of course, neither woman has actually said she is going to run for president in 2016. Not yet anyway. But the poll of 880 Alaskan voters (with a margin of error of 3.3 percent) gives a glimpse of how far Palin’s popularity has fallen in the state.
The poll asked respondents separate questions matching up Clinton with several potential Republican opponents -- Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, Ted Cruz, Mike Huckabee, Rand Paul, and Palin -- and only in the hypothetical Clinton-Palin race did Clinton win, 44 percent to 38 percent. The 19 percent who said they were not sure was slightly more than the other matchups.
“I think that just reflects just how unhappy people are with Palin in Alaska,” said Tom Jensen, president of Public Policy Polling. “That’s just about the only way they’d vote for a Democrat is if Palin was the alternative. It’s sort of like any mainstream, sort of average Republican, they would support.”
As has been the case since Palin resigned in the middle of her term as governor, Jensen said, a majority of Alaskans -- 54 percent -- said they had an unfavorable view of Palin.
Palin once enjoyed a 93 percent favorability rating in the state.
“One thing that’s interesting is Republicans, nationally, still love her,” Jensen said. “We’ve tested Palin on some early Iowa Republican polls, and she’s as popular as any Republican thinking about running for president in 2016.”
Jensen said Palin has proven to be unpopular with the national electorate overall, but Republicans, at least those outside Alaska, still view her as a contender.
“I can’t think of anybody else like that, who is sort of a superstar with voters within their own party once they get away from home, but when they’re actually at home a lot of people are just sort of groaning about them,” Jensen said.
The PPP poll also asked a question many Alaskans have groaned about, related to reports that Palin and her family were recently involved in a drunken brawl at an Anchorage party: Did the Palins or others instigate the fight?
The Palins instigated it, said 30 percent of the respondents. It was “other parties,” according to 18 percent. But the 52 percent who said “not sure” probably meant they simply did not care, Jensen said.
“I think it is probably more than anything else a function of disinterest,” he said.