Opinion Brief

Is Sarah Palin a has-been?

The one-time Tea Party queen has seen her stock fall rapidly over the last few months. What accounts for the decline?

Last week, NBC and The Wall Street Journal released a poll that showed just how far Sarah Palin has fallen out of favor with the American public. Only 25 percent of respondents had a favorable opinion of the former Alaska governor, while a whopping 53 percent viewed her unfavorably. In a hypothetical race for the 2012 GOP nomination, Palin places fifth and her approval rating is down 18 points since last September when many conservative candidates sought her election endorsement. In January, her popularity, already slipping, dropped precipitously after her infamous "blood libel" speech, in which she savaged the media for connecting her incendiary rhetoric to the Gabrielle Giffords shooting. But what else is contributing to Palin's decline?

The Right realized she was a liability: The GOP establishment's attempts to push mainstream candidates in last year's election "backfired horrifically," says Steve Kornacki at Salon, as voters flocked to polarizing Tea Party Candidates, many backed by Sarah Palin. Fearing that similarly minded voters might nominate an unelectable Palin to face President Obama in 2012, important conservatives began publicly questioning her leadership skills. And voters got the message: It was OK to like Palin and "to still conclude that she wasn't presidential material." "What ever happened to Sarah Palin?"

The media lost interest: Palin may have done irreparable damage to her own brand when she cast herself as a victim in the aftermath of the Jared Lee Loughner shooting, says David Weigel at Slate. But the media has also simply shifted its focus to other extreme candidates. News outlets only have "so much time for the 'freak show' coverage that Palin used to dominate, and that time is now being occupied by Donald Trump's journey of birtheristic self-discovery and the not-a-joke [Michele] Bachmann campaign." "Weigel: Palin's decline"

Actually, she's been all but replaced by Bachmann: While Palin has struggled to minimize her gaffes, says Brian C. Thomas at ChicagoNow, Michele Bachmann "is quickly becoming very popular in conservative circles, with much less baggage" than Sarah Barracuda. Eager conservatives consistently describe Bachmann as a down-to-earth, relatable mom who doesn't seem like a politician — "words that were used to describe another Republican woman from a state bordering Canada."
"Is Michele Bachmann the new Sarah Palin?"

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