Tea Party or No, Palin's Popularity Still Lags

Sarah Palin’s interest in the presidency is not being reciprocated by most Americans: Two-thirds of registered voters in a new ABC News/Washington Post poll say she’s unqualified for the job, and more than half continue to rate her unfavorably overall.

Those results come after Palin, in a television interview this week, said she’d run in 2012 “if there’s nobody else to do it.” That echoed a comment in February, when she said she wouldn’t “close the door that perhaps could be open for me in the future.”

This poll, produced for ABC News by Langer Research Associates, suggests steep challenges. Palin appears to have gained little luster from the success of the Tea Party political movement with which she’d aligned: Just 39 percent of registered voters see her favorably, the most basic measure of a public figure’s popularity. That’s essentially the same as her lows, 37 percent, last winter and spring.

Even fewer, just 27 percent, see her as qualified for the presidency, also essentially unchanged. Sixty-seven percent say she’s not qualified; this peaked at 71 percent in February.

While there are political and ideological divides on Palin, she faces hurdles across the board. Even in her own party, Republicans divide, 47 percent to 46 percent, on whether she’s qualified or unqualified to serve as president. Conservatives split, 45-48 percent, as do Tea Party supporters, 48-48 percent.

In only two groups do majorities see Palin as qualified – conservative Republicans, by 55-40 percent; and “strong” supporters of the Tea Party movement, by a broad 73-22 percent. (They’re a small group, one in 10 registered voters.)

While 82 percent of Democrats and 84 percent of liberals see her as unqualified, as do 70 percent of swing-voting independents and 77 percent of self-described political moderates.

Palin won initial popularity after her surprise appearance on the national political stage in September 2008, when John McCain selected her as his vice-presidential running mate. At her peak, shortly after the Republican National Convention, 58 percent of Americans saw her favorably. That fell to 46 percent by the 2008 election and 40 percent last summer, and hasn’t recovered since.

Beyond the expected partisan and ideological differences, Palin is notably more popular among evangelical white Protestants, 61 percent favorable, than among their mainline counterparts, 41 percent. And fewer than half in two key voter groups, independents and white Catholics, see her favorably overall.

Click here for the questions and full results.

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