According to a poll by Harper Polling, former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin is competitive in a potential race for Senator Mark Begich’s seat which comes up for election in 2014. Overall, Alaska Governor Sean Parnell leads Gov. Palin 32% to 27%, while Lieutenant Governor Mead Treadwell and 2010 Senate candidate Joe Miller lag far behind at 14% and 12% respectively. Gov. Palin leads Gov. Parnell by one point among very conservative voters (26% – 25%), while Gov. Parnell leads the somewhat conservative voters by 14% (39% – 25%).
Favorable / Likeability Numbers
Gov. Palin’s favorable rating among Republicans in this poll was 56% favorable, 38% not favorable; while Parnell’s was 74% and 16% respectively. All candidates’ favorable ratings dropped when considered against a sample of the entire electorate (Republicans, Democrats, and Independents). Parnell’s numbers were 50% favorable, 38% unfavorable, while Gov. Palin’s favorable rating was 34% and her unfavorable rating was 60%.
Name Recognition: 99.31%
Gov. Palin’s name recognition is 99.31% among the 1,157 likely voters sampled with a margin of error of +/- 2.88% and a confidence level of 95%.
Palin for Senate 2014?
Gov. Palin is a solid conservative, so her leading Parnell among the “very conservative” voters is not surprising. We don’t know if Gov. Palin will run for this Senate seat, but these numbers do suggest that a Palin campaign for any elective office would need a prior program to improve her favorable / likeability numbers among likely voters. Gov. Palin has gotten a bum rap in the mainstream media and likely voters right now believe the distorted version of her record. Complicating matters, Gov. Parnell’s repeated bids to scuttle Alaska’s Clear and Equitable Share (ACES) and to monkeywrench the Alaska Gasline Inducement Act (AGIA) are gaining traction now that he has a contingent of like-minded Republicans on his side.
Gov. Palin, in a hypothetical Senatorial campaign, however, could compellingly argue that Gov. Parnell is bent on causing Alaska to lose its state savings and once again be governed by corrupt-o-crats. If she chose to run for Senate, Gov. Palin would be well-served to avoid the “earmarks” third rail. Joe Miller ran as the “anti-earmarks” candidate and that position did not serve him well. Earmarks queen Lisa Murkowski easily defeated him on a write-in campaign with the help of over $1.5 million in financing by Native corporations which live and die by the earmarks Miller was campaigning to shut off. One day after re-taking office, Murkowski repaid her benefactors with over $26 million in earmarks.
Gov. Palin would never countenance this type of corruption, yet a Joe Miller-style anti-earmarks platform would be suicidal for a “Palin 2014 Senate” campaign in a state addicted to earmarks. But, Gov. Palin has 20 years of experience and the professional judgement and wisdom in handling precisely this issue, while Miller was a rank amateur. Further, Gov. Palin’s entire political career was dedicated to rooting out corruption, waste and fraud.
Would Gov. Palin run for Senate? Doing so would likely scuttle any Palin 2016 Presidential run, if she were to run and win. Running for Senate and serving two out of the six years would not likely go over very well, though other Senators have done just that. They got away with it, but there is a double-standard where Gov. Palin is concerned and that would spawn a whole new “quitter” meme. But, running for and winning the Senate seat would line Gov. Palin up perfectly for a 2020 Presidential run, and she would be going into it having experience in a federal office. But, running for the office would restrict the freedom Gov. Palin has now and she would be in the middle of the establishment she is trying so hard to defeat.
Whether Gov. Palin runs for Begich’s seat, or President in 2016, or neither remains to be seen, but this polling data shows that with improvement on her favorable / likeability numbers, Gov. Palin could win this race if she chose to run.