Last month, Sarah Palin opted not to renew her contract as a Fox News contributor. Will she be returning to politics? Incumbent Democratic Senator Mark Begich is in the Republican cross-hairs for 2014, and what would animate the base more than Sen. Sarah Palin from Alaska? It would – or should – give conservatives confidence that they’ll have a fighter on the Hill, and would be a morale booster (we sure need a lot of those lately) for the movement. I know it’s VERY early, and anything can happen, but Conservative Intelligence Briefing is showing Palin polling strong in the ’14 Alaskan Senate race with conservatives. However, when it comes to the general election, she has some obstacles, like incumbent Republican Governor Sean Parnell – but there’s plenty of time to make up for lost ground.
In a Republican Senate primary, Governor Sean Parnell leads former Governor Sarah Palin 32%-27%. Lt. Governor Mead Treadwell and 2010 Senate nominee Joe Miller follow at 14% and 12% respectively.
Republicans who consider themselves “Very Conservative” give Palin the edge over Parnell 26%-25%. Parnell’s strength is fueled by “Somewhat Conservative” voters who pick him over Palin 39%-25%.
Palin’s standing is not the result of her being unpopular with Alaska Republicans. Fifty-six percent of Republicans hold a favorable opinion of her, while 38% say unfavorable. The problem for Palin is that Sean Parnell has a 74% favorable image with Republicans, 16% say unfavorable.
Joe Miller has a net -9% unfavorable image rating (36%-47%) with Republicans. Mead Treadwell boasts a solid 42% favorable, 19% unfavorable image among Republicans.
Among all voters, Parnell (50% favorable, 38% unfavorable) and Treadwell (32% favorable, 27% unfavorable) have net positive image ratings. Palin (34% favorable, 60% unfavorable) and Miller (21%-56%) have net negative image ratings.
In head-to-head matchups against Democratic Senator Mark Begich, Parnell is the only Republican who starts out with a lead (Parnell 46%, Begich 40%). Parnell’s strength is among younger voters 18-to-35 and 36-to-45 years old who pick Parnell 43%-38% and 51%-36% respectively.
Parnell leads among Taxes & Spending voters (52%-37%), National Debt voters (70%-17%) and Oil & Natural Gas voters (49%-37%) while Begich leads with Health Care voters (66%-19%) and Economy voters (45%-41%). The two are tied among Jobs voters (41%-41%).
Palin trails Begich 40%-47%. Palin wins among Men (46%-42%) but trails Begich with Women (51%-36%). Begich enjoys stronger support among Democrats (90%) than Palin does among Republicans (68%). Independent and third party voters prefer Begich (52%-34%).
The poll was majority female, and split – roughly – 30%, 14%, and 54% between Republicans, Democrats, and Independents. A 30/14/54 poll, with a R+12 advantage. However, given the amount of Independents, this election could be decided by unaffiliated voters, who are typically for less government, lower taxes, and feel the debt/deficit are serious issues that need to be tackled. There is no information about how these independents lean politically, but in terms of ideology, roughly 21% of the respondents described themselves as very conservative, 32% were somewhat conservative, 32% were moderate, and 10% were liberal. So, ideologically the field is ripe for a Republican to unseat Begich.
However, while conservatives may fawn over Palin, she plays to the base, which could be a problem shifting independent/moderate support away from Begich. Additionally, Gov. Sean Parnell’s bastion of support with younger voters could be part of the process that bridges the gap between the youth and the Republican Party, which would also be an interesting narrative to own. Alaskan Republican governor leads the way in millenial outreach. It’s catchy.
If Palin were to run, she would have to focus on the youth, improving her image with moderate/independent voters, and engaging women. Neighborhood canvassing, phone banks, and heavily utilization social media with millenials are essential. However, Palin knows this from her 2006 Republican gubernatorial primary campaign that booted incumbent Gov. Frank Murkowski. However, at the time, Murkowski’s approval rating was at an ignominious 19%. Begich’s numbers aren’t that low.
Regardless, if Palin decides to run, expect intervention on behalf of the newly created Conservative Victory Project, which will give Parnell, or whoever is competitive with Sarah, political cover. The 2014 Alaska Senate race is a good distance away, but it’s already looking pretty exciting. In fact, it’s going to be exciting nationwide.