Josh Goodman is a former staff writer for GOVERNING..E-mail: email@example.com
I've been wondering what the rest of Sarah Palin's governorship in Alaska would look like, if she and John McCain don't win.
I haven't been wondering that because McCain's campaign is hopeless -- Obama's lead is as low as 5 points (and as high as 12 points) in national polls. Instead, I'm intrigued because the scenario would be so unusual: a national celebrity and a highly polarizing figure serving as the governor of a small state.
Would the national media stay focused on her? Would Congress treat Alaska differently? Will Alaskans view her the same way they did before she left for the national stage?
We're already starting to get some answers to that third question. Rasmussen Reports polled Alaskans early this week and found that 62% rate Palin's job performance as excellent or good. That's not stratospheric, but still quite impressive, especially because Rasmussen tends to produce lower job approval numbers than other pollsters.
A less encouraging result for Palin? The poll showed that 23% of Alaskans now think she's doing a poor job. That number is more than triple what it was in April, when, according to Rasmussen, only 7% of her state's residents rated her job as poor.
Most likely, that increase is partially due to Troopergate and partially because she's now associated with the national Republican Party. John Kerry did, after all, get 36% of Alaskans to vote for him. Without Palin on the ticket, Barack Obama would have done much better than that. Voters who didn't like John McCain now associate Palin with McCain, causing her "poor" ratings to go up.
What that suggests to me is that Palin would return to Alaska actually more like a typical governor than when she left. People in her own party will like her, people in the opposing party generally won't. The good news for her is that there are more Republicans than Democrats in Alaska.
One thing I wouldn't expect is for Troopergate to do a lot more damage to Palin in Alaska. A lot of Alaskans don't seem too upset by the scandal because they think Mike Wooten was a bad trooper who deserved to be fired.
Of course, the effect of the scandal will depend to some extent on the exact contents of Stephen Branchflower's report -- which, by the way, seems likely to be made public this afternoon.
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