Sarah Palin's Alaska debuted on TLC Sunday night, giving viewers a reality show-like view of the former governor and vice presidential candidate's life on the final frontier. The premier episode features grizzly bears, rock climbing, and the 14 foot wall Palin's husband built to shield his family from their temporary next door neighbor, author Joe McGinniss, who is writing a book about Palin. The show is billed as an eight part series on the Palin's and their adventurous Alaska, but it's not without Mama Grizzly's political remarks. People might look at the wall on her property, she tells TLC, and say it is an example of 'what we need to do to secure our nation's border.'" With this new program, Palin has viewers and political analysts alike guessing whether she is using this platform to enhance her celebrity or her 2012 presidential chances, or both. [See photos of Sarah Palin and her family.]
But a new poll suggests Palin has some ground to make up after this past election if she wants to be viable in 2012. Two days before her show debuted, Gallup released a survey showing a majority of Americans don't necessarily take well to Palin. Among those surveyed, 51 percent view her as unfavorable, while 40 percent have a favorable opinion of her. Palin's ratings are especially low, perhaps not surprisingly, among Democrats, with 81 percent having a negative view of her. But she doesn't necessarily appeal to independents either, with 53 percent viewing her unfavorably.
Palin's aggressive campaign for insurgents like GOP Senate hopeful Christine O'Donnell in Delaware drew critics from both sides of the aisle. A boost from Palin helped O'Donnell defeat long time lawmaker Mike Castle in Delaware's Republican primary but she proved a weak match for Democratic candidate Chris Coons, who won the midterm election. Last week, GOP Rep. Spencer Bachus of Alabama said such endorsements "cost [Republicans] control of the Senate." But despite the somewhat divisive role some say Palin played in the 2010 election, 81 percent of Republicans view her favorably.
The poll also finds that since late October, support for the Tea Party with which Palin is closely tied has increased by 6 percentage points, with 32 percent saying they identify with the movement while 30 percent say they oppose it. Among Republicans, 65 percent support the movement, while 57 percent of Democrats oppose it. Independents are split, with 30 percent backing the movement and 25 percent opposing it. [Check out our editorial cartoons on the Tea Party.]
Of course, it is still too early to tell how Palin's current ratings and the increased support for the grassroots movement she embraces will impact the next presidential race or if they will encourage or deter her bid. But with her new TLC program up and running, Palin's name will continue to be a part of the 2012 campaign discussion.
- Read 10 Things You Didn't Know About Sarah Palin.
- See a slide show of 10 reasons Sarah Palin would make a good president.
- See a slide show of 10 reasons Sarah Palin would make a bad president.