Republicans Still Pining For The One That Got Away; Sarah Palin

It’s getting to the point of inevitability in the GOP Presidential race. Mitt Romney is still far short of the necessary 1,144 delegates needed to win the nomination, but his lead is a steady more than two to one, with the next closest competitor being Rick Santorum. Perhaps most interesting about the race is who isn’t there, Sarah Palin. A recent Public Polling Policy poll said that Palin would beat anyone in the GOP field, at least in favorability, if not actual votes.

The poll was conducted on usual primary voters, who, according to the poll, are overwhelmingly (76%) self-described “conservative” or “very conservative” and over 45 (76%).

Despite the fact that Romney is winning in the polls, Santorum edges him out in favorability. Of the respondents, 54% found Romney favorable, 59% found Santorum favorable, 47% for Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul trails with a 31% favorability rating. Leading the entire pack is Sarah Palin, with a favorability rating of 68% among conservative voters.

“The fact that Sarah Palin is now more popular than any of the Republican Presidential candidates is a real sign of the toll the campaign has taken on all of the contenders’ images,” said Dean Debnam, President of Public Policy Polling. “Meanwhile Rick Santorum is struggling and would really need a major change in the race- like Newt Gingrich dropping out- to reverse his fortunes.”

Favorability doesn’t seem to necessarily correlate with electability. Despite being second in the field in favorability, he’s first when asked who respondents would vote for, with 34% choosing the front-runner. Santorum is second with 31%, Gingrich third with 20% and Paul at just 9%.

If Sarah Palin elicits one thing, it is passion. Conservative voters identify with her. She has come to symbolize much of what Republican voters, if not the Republican establishment, care about. Whether or not that passion can translate to votes may never be tested.

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