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Sarah Palin favorite for Senate faring poorly -- in Alaska

July 21, 2010 |  1:27 pm

Sarah Palin

Sarah Palin has cause to celebrate after Tuesday’s Republican primary in Georgia, where a timely endorsement helped lift her favored candidate into an Aug. 10 gubernatorial runoff. Closer to home, however, things aren’t looking as bright for the former governor-turned-TV personality/"tea party" tribune/prolific-Facebooker.

Georgia’s insurance commissioner, John Oxendine, was widely considered the GOP front-runner until Palin weighed in last week on behalf of Secretary of State Karen Handel, who finished first in Tuesday's balloting.

But the outlook doesn’t seem as promising for another Palin favorite, Joe Miller, who is waging an uphill bid for U.S. Senate back in Palin’s home state. Palin endorsed the Fairbanks attorney in a June Facebook posting, calling him “a true Commonsense Constitutional Conservative.”

A new survey, however, has Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski crushing Miller in Alaska’s Aug. 24 primary, 62% to 30%, and shows Murkowski to be considerably more popular than Palin.Lisa Murkowski

“She’s become really quite a polarized figure [in Alaska], which I don’t think is any different of how she is perceived nationally,” said Ivan Moore, the Anchorage-based pollster who conducted the survey July 7-11.

The poll of 661 registered voters showed Murkowski with an overall  approval rating of 53% positive and 28% negative — making her the state’s most popular politician -- compared to 47% negative and 41% positive for Palin. (The far lesser-known Miller had an 18% to 13% positive rating.)

Perhaps more telling were the passions surrounding Alaska’s former chief executive. Of 13 political personalities tested, Palin evoked by far the strongest sentiments, with 25% of those surveyed feeling very positive toward her and 32% very negative.

A bit of back story: Palin defeated Murkowski’s dad, Frank, in the August 2006 GOP primary en route to becoming Alaska governor. Palin and Lisa Murkowski had a chilly relationship when they served together in office, and Murkowski doubtless did little to endear herself when Palin quit her job about a year ago to pursue outside opportunities. Murkowski said she was “deeply disappointed that the governor has decided to abandon the state and her constituents.”

Still, each has said there is nothing personal in Palin’s endorsement of Miller which, pollster Moore suggests, amounts to pretty much close to a wash.

“It gives Joe Miller credibility, but it hurts him, too,” Moore said. “It’s kind of a double-edged sword, with a very sharp negative side.”

[Correction: An earlier version of this post said Palin's approval rating was 41% negative and 47% positive. Her approval rating was actually 47% negative and 41% positive, and we've corrected the error.]

-- Mark Z. Barabak

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Photos: Sarah Palin, Lisa Murkowski. Credit: Getty Images.

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