A fascinating report on the Tea Party was released today by Democracy Corps. Their data collected from months of polling debunked the myth of the Tea Party as populist outrage, but also revealed that Sarah Palin is regarded by the members as hero of the movement, but they have doubts about her intelligence and future.
As it relates to Palin, the Democracy Corps study found that Palin was tied with Glenn Beck for most popular Tea Party member, and while they count on Beck for their information, Palin is a hero, “Sarah Palin is also a hero of this movement, with a warm rating of 75 percent among supporters, as reflected in the focus groups. People like her personally and believe she is the breath of conservative fresh air. They think she performed admirably under a terrible set of circumstances in 2008 when a weak McCain campaign threw her out there for the media to tear her apart.”
Just because the Tea Party likes her though, does not mean that they trust her or think she is qualified. Here is an interesting comment from a group member, “I sometimes a little bit wonder because she just seems to kind of just repeat herself with the same things. It just seems like if you see her last year and you see her three months ago, she’s saying the same things. I’m certainly supportive of her, but I guess I’m a little disappointed that she seems so stagnated.”
Here is another one, “I think she’s genuine, but I don’t think she’s educated enough. I don’t think she’s savvy enough and I don’t think she knows enough actually to, you know, let’s put it this way there’s no way that she’s going to go anywhere. I mean, it’s just, I don’t see it. I don’t see it happening. I don’t see her becoming another one that’s going to be electable.”
Finally, there is this gem that aptly compares her to George W. Bush, “I kind of equate her on the same parallel as Bush; a likable person, kind of out of her element when it comes to the big league, not well informed but a very likable person.” In summary, they like Palin as a person, a lot, but even they doubt that she is qualified or intelligent enough to be president, and don’t see her as a real leader.
What must be remembered is that the Tea Party, or the GOP Tea Party, in this case, never chose Sarah Palin as their leader. She was anointed by Fox News, which might be why feelings are so mixed when it comes to her. There is a big difference between liking someone, and wanting them to speak for and lead your organization. They like Sarah. They think she is fun to have around, but they wouldn’t trust her to house sit and keep their goldfish alive while they are on vacation.
The results of this report should make everyone question if Sarah Palin is electable with anyone at the national level. If the same people who gave her a 75% approval, have doubts about her intellect and qualifications, that speaks volumes about her lack of a political future. If she can’t convince people who feel warmly towards her that she is qualified, how will she ever convince America that she belongs in the White House?
The reality is that she probably won’t. There is no more difficult label to shake in American politics than being perceived as dumb. Dan Quayle could cure cancer tomorrow and people would still think that he is an idiot. Gerald Ford went to his grave with Chevy Chase’s impression of him as a bumbling fool still etched into the psyche of many Americans.
A candidate can change a lot of labels in politics, but stupid isn’t one of them. Rightly, or wrongly, Palin has been labeled stupid, and that label follows her, even with her base. Although Palin will still run in 2012, if this report shows anything, it is that her only strategy will have to be a cult of personality campaign, and even if she can capture the Republican nomination, she has little to no chance of being elected.