Sixty-nine percent (69%) of Republican voters say Alaska Governor Sarah Palin helped John McCain’s bid for the presidency, even as news reports surface that some McCain staffers think she was a liability. Only 20% of GOP voters say Palin hurt the party’s ticket, according to a new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey. Six percent (6%) say she had no impact, and five percent (5%) are undecided. Ninety-one percent (91%) of Republicans have a favorable view of Palin, including 65% who say their view is Very Favorable. Only eight percent (8%) have an unfavorable view of her, including three percent (3%) Very Unfavorable. When asked to choose among some of the GOP’s top names for their choice for the party’s 2012 presidential nominee, 64% say Palin. The next closest contenders are two former governors and unsuccessful challengers for the presidential nomination this year — Mike Huckabee of Arkansas with 12% support and Mitt Romney of Massachusetts with 11%. Three other sitting governors – Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, Charlie Crist of Florida and Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota – all pull low single-digit support. These findings echo a survey earlier this week which found that Republicans were happier with their vice presidential candidate than with their presidential nominee. Seventy-one percent (71%) said McCain made the right choice by picking Palin as his running mate, while only 65% said the party picked the right nominee for president. The key for the 44-year-old Palin will be whether she can broaden her base of support. An Election Day survey found that 81% of Democrats and, more importantly, 57% of unaffiliated voters had an unfavorable view of her. (Want a free daily e-mail update? Sign up now. If it’s in the news, it’s in our polls). Palin, Alaska’s first woman governor, was elected to a four-year term in 2006. She was largely unknown nationally until McCain chose her to be the party’s vice presidential candidate. She quickly became a darling of the GOP’s conservative base and energized the party’s rank-and-file. Speculation about her future has run high for weeks when it appeared Barack Obama was likely to beat McCain. Already this week there is talk of her possibly taking the seat of embattled Republican Senator Ted Stevens if he manages to hang on and win won reelection despite recent federal felony convictions. Stevens would have to step down if his appeal of the convictions is unsuccessful. Palin could also run for another term as Governor in the state where she still enjoys very high approval ratings. Among Republicans, 66% of men and 61% of women say Palin is their choice for the Republican presidential nomination in 2012. Sixty-six percent (66%) of GOP women have a Very Favorable view of her, as do 64% of men. While Palin’s high favorables suggest she has a bright political future in the Republican Party, it is important to note that favorites four years out from a presidential election quite often do not get the nomination. Obama, for example, was just an Illinois state senator four years ago, and Hillary Clinton appeared a shoo-in for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2008. Similarly, vice presidential candidates historically have seldom risen to the highest office by election. Republicans are closely divided over the two most important issues in the next presidential election: 31% say economic issues, 30% say national security. Fifteen percent (15%) list fiscal issues, followed by cultural issues (12%) and domestic issues (6%). Five percent (5%) are undecided. Palin is overwhelmingly the top choice for 2012 among voters in all these categories. Over two-thirds of Republicans describe themselves as conservative in terms of foreign policy, fiscal and social issues. Eighty percent (80%) of Republicans have a favorable view of Huckabee, including 46% Very Favorable. Sixteen percent (16%) regard him unfavorably. Eighty-one percent (81%) view Romney favorably, with 45% Very Favorable. Fifteen percent (15%) have an unfavorable opinion of him. Jindal, Pawlenty, and Crist are far less known than the other candidates. Roughly 40% of GOP voters have no opinion one way or the other of these three Republican Governors.
Well Maybe the GOP can save money on primaries. According to a Rasmussen poll released today, almost 2/3 of Republicans want Governor Palin to be the nominee in four years. In fact more GOPers approved of the VP Pick this time around than the Presidential pick. Those cowardly McCain staffers trashing the governor better keep their mouths closed, after all they might want a job with the campaign in 2012. Read the full survey below: