Monday, October 19, 2009

Working Class Hero: Palin Rising

By Bernie Quigley

- for The Hill on 10/19/09

A recent Gallup Poll indicates that Sarah Palin’s approval rating has dropped by two percent since the defeat of the Republican Party ticket last November. But despite the decline, Gallup said her ability to stay in the news may allow her to move from being a vice presidential candidate in one election to being a presidential candidate in the next.

Despite a torrent of criticism from the media, Democrats and even some in her own party, Sarah Palin remains the hottest brand name in politics Politico reports.

As part of an effort to gauge Palin's popularity with the rank and file beyond the Beltway, where the GOP establishment is lukewarm toward the charismatic former governor, POLITICO surveyed nearly 50 prominent Republican Party officials and politicians, representing every region of the country and ranging from statewide-elected officeholders to state legislators to state and county party chairs.

Some refused to talk about her at all. Others, mostly her critics, would do so only off the record. But taken as a whole, the body of interviews revealed that despite Palin's high negative ratings in recent national polls, Republicans at the grass-roots level and their leaders still hold a very favorable impression of the former Alaska governor. Westerners had a particular affinity for Palin, with many noting that she embodied the values of freedom and self-reliance.

"People saw her as one of them -- someone who could relate to an everyday person. She's not one of the political class," Heidi Gansert, the Nevada House minority leader told Politico. "I also believe that women appreciated her message and what she'd accomplished in her political career and family life. A woman who has a young family, who is able to become the governor of Alaska -- a lot of people, women who worked the everyday jobs with their families -- they know that she's experiencing the same things they are."

Charles M. Webster, the state GOP chairman in Maine, said Republicans there are very enthusiastic about Palin largely because they can see themselves in her.

"I see her as being somebody who the average, what I call 'working class guy,' relates to," Webster said. "Somebody who's plain-spoken, somebody who hunts and fishes. And this is Maine -- we're in the country up here."