Over coming weeks ConservativeHome will be conducting in-depth polling of the Republican grassroots in order to establish the strengths and weaknesses of the presidential ambitions of the possible GOP nominees.
We start with Sarah Palin. The polling process has involved two steps and over 1,300 Republican activists identified by YouGov America. Activists and members of the ConservativeHome100 Panel of Influentials were asked to suggest strengths and weaknesses of Sarah Palin. We then went back to the activists with a short list of most suggested strengths and weaknesses and asked them to say whether they agreed or disagreed with them.
(1) Her electability - 51% agree that a less controversial candidate is more likely to beat Obama;
(2) Opposition to her candidacy from senior Republican officials - 70% agree that criticism from Republican leaders could wreck her chances;
(3) Her lack of experience - 51% think she was wrong to step down as Governor of Alaska.
If her opponents are to stop her candidacy they will probe these weaknesses. If Team Palin wants to inoculate their candidate they will address these weaknesses.
In the list of Sarah Palin's vulnerabilities (below) items 4 and 5 are most significant. If polls continue to show that candidates like Mitt Romney are more likely to beat Obama, the Republican grassroots could be persuaded to oppose her candidacy. It is likely that their desire to see Obama ousted will trump their support to see Palin elected. It is interesting that 42% of GOP activists agree that "she is good for supporting other candidates but shouldn't run herself". 42% disagree. That suggests there is significant awareness that there is a ceiling to her popularity.
The GOP grassroots reject the suggestion that she doesn't know enough about foreign policy or that she lacks intelligence. Her daughter's controversial behavior should also be out of bounds in GOP activists' view.
Perhaps remembering her robust 2008 performance against Joe Biden, 60% think she would perform well in election debates.
SUMMARY OF ALL POLL FINDINGS
For each of the statements below we give the percentages agreeing and then disagreeing. For some statements the percentage of 'do not know' is quite large.
Sarah Palin's principal vulnerabilities in the eyes of Republican activists
- Attacks from senior Republicans could wreck her candidacy 70/ 20
- She sometimes says silly things 65/ 27
- She was wrong to resign early as Governor of Alaska 51/ 35
- A less controversial Republican is more likely to beat Obama 51/ 33
- Mitt Romney is more likely than Palin to beat Obama 49/ 29
- She is good for supporting other candidates but shouldn't run herself 42/ 42
Vulnerabilities that GOP activists reject as potent
- She doesn't know enough about foreign policy 36/ 47
- She relies on too many soundbites in speeches and interviews 30/ 52
- She should be ashamed of her daughter's behaviour 11/ 78
- She lacks intelligence 10/ 82
Strengths of Sarah Palin
- She has courage 95/ 3
- She has a "down home, folksy way" of communicating 93/ 5
- She will stick with her beliefs, whatever people throw at her 91/ 4
- She is very charismatic 89/ 7
- The Tea Party Movement loves her 88/ 2
- Her Christian beliefs are an asset 81/ 7
- I like her traditional views on abortion and homosexuality 80/ 11
- She will stop higher taxes 74/ 8
- She would do well in election debates 60/ 23
- It's time for a woman President 39/ 18
> Next up in this series: Mitt Romney. Then Jeb Bush.