The theatrics and confusion over Sarah Palin's upcoming schedule probably won't help her standing with Republican activists in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina, who already overwhelmingly prefer that she not run for president in 2012, according to the survey conducted this past week by The Huffington Post and Patch in the early primary and caucus states.
Palin had previously announced plans to appear at a Tea Party rally in Indianola, Iowa, on Saturday, but news reports on Wednesday quote sources close to the former governor saying the appearance is "on hold" or "no longer confirmed," although rally organizers say Palin has not informed them of any change. Separately, Palin announced new plans to speak to another Tea Party rally in New Hampshire on Labor Day.
Last week, our HuffPost-Patch Power Outsiders poll of influential Republicans in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina found two thirds satisfied with the current crop of candidates and only 8 percent offering Palin when asked who else they would like to see run in a follow-up question.
This week, we decided to dig deeper into evaluations of Sarah Palin, starting with a more straightforward question: Should Palin run or not in 2012? We received responses back from 151 of our influential Republican leaders -- 35 in Iowa, 48 in New Hampshire and 63 in South Carolina. Just 15 percent said yes, Palin should run, while 81 percent said she should not.
Probing deeper, we found much sympathy for Palin among these local Republican activists, party and elected officials. Three out of four (76 percent) describe her as someone who "takes stands on issues you agree with," although they divide more closely on her readiness to be president. As many say she is well described as someone who "would make a good president" (47 percent) as say that phrase describes does not describe her (47 percent).
Electability is the sticking point. More than half (57 percent) say she is not described well as someone who "can beat Barack Obama in the general election." Just 26 percent say that phrase describes her somewhat well and 11 percent say it describes her very well.
Palin has both big fans and strong detractors among this group of local influential Republicans. One respondent said Palin had "sterling yet largely silent respect among women, mothers and Conservatives" and was ready to be unleashed when she announces, while another respondent said simply, "NO! NO! NO!" when asked if Palin should run.
But the more common response was a mix of respect and sympathy for Palin combined with grave concerns about electability:
We need more Sarah Palin's in our society, so her type of grassroots politics becomes more commonplace. Unfortunately, Sarah Palin has scared off enough people that she's not likely to have widespread support. That's too bad.
Sarah Palin’s strength is her common sense approach to key issues affecting the United States, She brings these issues to light and fires up the base of the Republican party. How I also understand she is polarizing and the downfall is that she does not always play well to the independents.
I love and admire Sarah Palin. I would vote for her for President should she get the nomination, but I do not believe she is electable as President.
I love Palin to death but there is so much negativity attributed to her it would be a steep hill for her to overcome (in order to be elected). She should continue doing what she's doing. She's a political voice and she does it very well.
Of course, our respondents are "Power Outsiders" only from the perspective of Washington, D.C. They are Republican insiders within their communities, the local version of the Republican "establishment" that Palin often rails against. That characteristic highlights an important limitation of this survey: They are not Palin's base.
Should she run, Palin's support would have to come from the grassroots and, presumably, from many who do not typically vote in Republican primaries. But since presidential nominees are typically the candidates that win the early "invisible primary" for endorsements from influential activists and office holders, Palin would begin with an enormous political handicap.
The HuffPost-Patch Power Outsiders
All of the individuals listed below have agreed to participate in the Power Outsiders surveys, although not all responded to this week's questions.
Cory Adams (Story County GOP chair), Leah Adams (Co-Chair, Johnson County Republican Women), Chad Airhart (Dallas Co. recorder), Skye Alison (Insurance Sales), Roger Anderson (Member, Johnson County GOP Executive Committee), Shane Blanchard (Waukee City Council), Carmine Boal (Former Congresswoman, now works for governor), Steve Boal (CFO, Accu-Mold), Irene Chalmers-Neubauer (Republican precinct captain), Arleigh Clemens (Co-Chair Johnson County Republicans), Jeremy Davis (Councilman), Tyler DeHaan (IT Services), Debra Derksen (PR person for Johnson County GOP), Mike Elam (Organizer, Dallas County GOP), Paul Fell (Santorum supporter), Amanda Freel (State House Repub Staff), Natalie Ginty (Chairwoman, Iowa Federation of College Republicans), Rick Hermann (Sales Manager, WeatherTech Automotive), William Keettel (Former head, Johnson County Republicans), Kevin Koester (Congressman), Marilyn Krocheski, Jon McAvoy (Head of Dallas County Republicans), Isaiah McGee (Owner, McGee strategies), Chris McLinden (Axis Capital, Businessman), Cynthia Michel (Precinct Captain), Mike Nolan (Republican Party noteable), Bill Peard (Waukee Mayor), Rick Sanders (Republican Supervisor), Mike St. Clair (Lobbyist), Chad Steenhoek (Member, Strong America Now), Wade Steenhoek (Ankeny City Council ), Ronald Stenstrom (Romney Supporter), Karen Svede (Former statewide candidate), Rob Taylor (Running for Iowa House Seat), Mike Thayer (Editor/Publisher Coralville Courier), Deb Thornton (Worked in Republican administrations), Robert Wennerholm (Precinct Captain), Randy Yontz (Director Leadership Institute).
Eric Anderson (Former State Rep/Chair Bow Board of Selectmen), Gary Azarian (State Rep.), David Bates (Rep- Windham), Kathy Benuck (BCTV Host/Blogger), D.J. Bettencourt (State Rep., Maj. Leader), Diane Bitter (Rye Republican activist), Bill Boyd (Town Councilor), Russell Bridle (Former Hampton Fire Department captain/State Rep.), Ed Brooks (Former ME selectman, town councilor), Chris Buck (Republican activist), Chris Buda (Merrimack GOP Chair), Jamie Burnett (Consultant), John Cebrowski (State Rep. - Bedford), Chris Christiansen (State Rep), Mark Cookson (Alderman-at-large), Tim Copeland (State rep.), Jim Costello (American Government teacher), Juanita Dangel (Secretary Hillsborough County GOP), Gary Daniels (State Rep), Ed Declercq (Planning Board), Jerry Delemus (Republican activist), Shari Demers (Activist), Julie DiCarlo (Small business owner), Ron DiCarlo (Small business owner), Bob Elliott (State Rep.), Gary Ellmer (Chairman, Porsmouth Republican Committee), Frank Ferraro (Exeter Selectman), Laura Foote (Activist), Mauri Foster (Retired), Sheila Francoeur (Seacoast Republican Women member), Bianca Garcia (Former Salem GOP Victory Office mgr), David Garcia (Salem Town GOP Chair), John Graham (State Rep. - Bedford), Brian Griset (Member of local political committee), Lisa Hansen (Romney supporter), Peter Hansen (State Rep), Pat Hargreaves (Selectman), Jeff Hatch (Salem Romney Town Chair), Ken Hawkins (State Rep - Bedford), Dan St. Hilaire (Executive councilor), Dick Hinch (Current State Rep), Jennifer Horn (Republican activist), David Hurst (New Hampshire Young Republicans chairman), Ken Jones (Member of Amherst Republicans), Gary Krupp (Member of the School Budget Committee), Gary Lambert (State Senator), Michael Lambert (Resident), Steve Landry (Small business owner), Tom Linehan (GOP Activist), Eduardo Lopez-Reyes (Software engineer), Marie Lopez-Reyes (Sales), Stephen E. Ludwick (Chairman, Supervisors of the Checklist, Ward 9), Jim Luther (State Senator), John Lyons (Lawyer), Kris MacNeil (Former State Senate candidate), Joel Maiola (Former Judd Gregg Chief of Staff), Andrew Manuse (State Rep - Derry), George Markwell (School Board Member), Harry McClard (Freelance writer), Patrick McDougall (Budget Committee), Bill Modis (Vice Chair of Amherst Republicans), Maureen Mooney (Past State Rep), Keith Murphy (State Rep - Bedford), Tasha Olsen (Republican activist), Rick Paige (Loan officer), Michele Peckham (State Rep. - N. Hampton), Amy Perkins (Former State Rep. - Seabrook), Lawrence Perkins (State Rep. - Seabrook), Lenette Peterson (State Rep), Lee Quandt (State rep.), Matt Quandt (Exeter Selectman/State Rep.), Tom Rath (Consultant), Fred Rice (State Rep. - Hampton), Jim Rubens (Former Republican State Sen.), Pete Silva (Rep - Nashua), William Smith (Conservative Blogger), Brandon Stauber (Small business owner/recent Exeter transplant), Sen. Nancy Stiles (State Senator - Hampton), Kathy Stroud (State Rep), Chris Tremblay (Activist), Pam Tucker (Deputy House Speaker), Mark Vincent (Chair of Amherst Republicans), Jim Waddell (State Rep. - Hampton), Tom Walker (Conservative Republican), Robert Washburn (Former City Councilor), Raymond White (State Sen. - Bedford), J. Christopher Williams (Pres. Nashua CC), Tony Zore (Tea Party member)
Aubry Alexander (Charleston City Council - District 9), Thomas Alexander (State Senator), Dean Allen (Tea Party Activist), Charm Altman (President Sea Island Republican Women), Patrick L. Arnold (Campaign and fundraising consultant), Rep. Nathan Ballentine (SC House Dist. 71), Bob Barnwell (Richland Co. GOP Spring Valley), Joseph Bates, Jr. (Committeeman/ Richland Co. GOP Dutch Fork ), Eric Bedingfield (State Rep/Congressional Staffer), Lin Bennett (Chair, Charleston County GOP), Rich Bolen (Chair, Lexington County GOP), Andrew Boucher (Business consultant and political advisor), Phillip Bowers (Chairman, Pickens County Republican Party), Dan Bracken (President/ The Auction Co. & Real Estate Inc.), Edward Britt (Engineer), Joe Bustos (Former town councilman), Jay Byars (Dorchester County councilman), Bob Call (Berkeley County Councilman), Tim Callanan (Berkeley County GOP Chairman), Mike Campbell (Son of former Gov. Carroll Campbell; co-chairman of Huntsman's S.C. effort), Ed Carter (Small business owner), M. Todd Cullum (Lexington County Council member), Rep. Joe Daning (Statehouse rep.), Smokey Davis (Lexington County Council member), Carroll S. Duncan (Dorchester GOP Chair), Dana Eiser (Lowcountry 9.12 president), Linda Eiser (9/12 conservative), Linda Estep (wife of Pastor at First Baptist Church of Columbia), Chip Felkel (Political Consultant), Will Folks (Editor, fitsnews.com; spokesman for former Gov. Mark Sanford), Leland Glen (Author), Chris Godbey (Political Consultant), Randy Halfacre (Mayor of Lexington), Dan Hamilton (State Representative), Carla Hardee (President, Dutch Fork Chapter of the S.C. Federation of Republican Women), Larry Hargett (Dorchester County Council chairman), Val Hutchinson (Richland County Council), Johnny Jeffcoat (Town of Lexington Economic and Community Catalyst; Lexington County Council member), Jim Jerow (Georgetown GOP Chair), Debbie Jones (9.12 Board Member), Joanne Jones (Republican activist), Grayson Kelly (Fundraiser), James Kinard (Banker, Chair, Lexington County Council), Todd Kincannon (Lawyer/former executive director of SC Republican Party), Bob Kouvolo (President/ MaxPt), Mickey Lindler (Chairwoman for Republicans of Lexington and Richland Counties), Chris Mann (City Councilman), Karen Martin (Organizer/Spartanburg Tea Party), Larry Martin (State Senator), Taft Matney (Conservative Political Consultant), James Metts (Lexington County Sheriff), Matt Moore (Executive Director for SC GOP), Susan Morris (Nonprofit executive director), Mike Murphee (Charleston Tea Party chairman), Brent Nelsen (Professor of Political Science/former candidate for Supt. of Education), Don Nye (Bank employee), Allen Olson (Chairman / Columbia TEA Party), Randy Page (President,South Carolinians for Responsible Government), Gregory Pearce (Richland Co. Councilman), Adam Piper (SC GOP 3rd Vice Chairman & political director for Huntsman campaign), Zach Pippin (GOP Media Consultant), Tony Pope (Insurance agent), Barbara Pulicicchio (Political activist), Rick Quinn (S.C. Rep. Dist. 69), Dennis Raines (Mayoral Candidate), Jeff Reuer (Vice Chair Goose Creek 9-12), DeLinda Ridings (SC GOP State Secretary / Huntsman campaign), Robby Robbins (Lawyer), Emily Rudolph (Sea Island Republican Women), LaDonna Ryggs (Spartanburg GOP Chair), Michael Sally (Hanahan City Councilman), Dennis Saylor (Chair, Aiken GOP), Bill Severns (Rep. for Beaufort Republican Men), Katrina Shealy (Candidate for SC Senate from Lexington), Lanneau Siegling (State Executive Committeeman), Billy Simons (Conservative activist), Garry Smith (State Rep), Bill Banning, Sr. (Vice-chair, Lexington County Council), John Steinberger (Fair Tax activist), Mary Ann Taylor (Charleston County Republican Women/Charleston County School Board), MacLain R. "Mac" Toole (S.C. Rep., Dist. 88), Frank Townsend (Lexington County Council member), September Wellborn (State GOP Delegate), Knox White (Mayor of Greenville), Jennifer Willis (County Councilwoman/ V.P. One Tree Hill), Henry Wilson (2011 delegate, S.C. Republican Convention), James David Woodard (Professor of Political Science, Clemson University)