Maybe she shouldn’t have quit after half a term

MAYBE SHE SHOULDN’T HAVE QUIT AFTER HALF A TERM…. There’s ample evidence to show that Sarah Palin is not a well-liked political figure nationwide. It’s slightly more interesting, though, to see how unpopular she is in her home state.

In Alaska just 33% of voters have a favorable opinion of her to 58% with a negative one. The only place where fewer voters see her positively than her own home state is dark blue Massachusetts.

Democrats hate Palin in Alaska but they hate her everywhere so there’s nothing newsworthy about that. What makes her home state numbers unusually bad is that Republicans see her favorably by only a 60/30 margin. In most places she’s closer to 80% favorability within her own party. Also while independents don’t like her anywhere their level of animosity in Alaska is unusually large — 65% unfavorable to only 25% with a favorable opinion.

Some of this, of course, is the result of Palin being a national embarrassment, which makes her unpopular everywhere. But Dave Weigel notes why Alaskans’ attitudes are of particular interest.

I visited Alaska in July, and spent half a day in Wasilla, where one used book store put Going Rogue in the Alaska Fiction section. There are simple psychological reasons for all of this. People come to Alaska to strike out and get rich — in gold, on the oil pipeline, on fishing boats. But Alaskans don’t bail on the state to get rich elsewhere, and that’s obviously what Palin did in July 2009. She kept her home base in the state while making money as a political pundit Outside.

As she did this, Alaskans visiting other states, who were once asked about bears or Deadliest Catch, were asked some variation of the question “ooh, ooh, can you see Russia from your house?” So this is a very specific, provincial kind of popularity plunge.

This, by the way, comes on the heels of another survey from Public Policy Polling that asked Alaska Republicans who they favored for the 2012 GOP presidential nomination. Palin was third in the poll, with a measly 15%.

In the context of the presidential campaign, I continue to think this matters. Some political figures weighing national bids enjoy considerable support from those who presumably know them best — their home state’s voters. But as Republicans get set to announce, we see a field in which several prominent candidates — Palin, Tim Pawlenty, Mitt Romney — have effectively been told by their former constituents, “Don’t bother.”