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A look at how Sarah Palin is playing in Alaska

October 15, 2008 |  1:49 pm

John McCain's surprise pick of Sarah Palin as his running mate undoubtedly fired up his party's base and initially appeared to boost his political prospects. Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin speaks in New Hampshire

The L.A. Times/Bloomberg poll completed earlier this week, though, raised the prospect that among the public at large, she's become a drag on him -- or at least a wash.

The survey found a virtual tie in attitudes toward Palin: 43% gave her a thumbs up, 42% a thumbs down. Slightly more -- 27% -- said she made them less likely to vote for McCain than those who said she upped the chances they would do so -- 22% (the majority -- 50% -- said her presence on the ticket would not affect their vote).

Back in her home state, Alaska's leading newspaper today decided to hold forth what has happened -- politically -- to Palin since she was thrust onto the national stage less than eight weeks ago. Sean Cockerman of the Anchorage Daily News asserts that she "has morphed on the national campaign trail from bipartisan small state governor to a conservative lightning rod."

He goes on:

Even if she doesn't win the vice presidency, her political career will never be the same. If she returns (to Alaska), the Republican governor will face former Democratic allies furious at her campaign attacks. She will also face lawmakers from both parties ticked off at her handling of the so-called Troopergate investigation and her recent false assertions that the investigator's report cleared her, according to interviews with a number of lawmakers and others who watch Alaska politics. ...

But Palin would also return as a national figure who excited huge crowds across the nation and is already being described as a potential presidential candidate four years from now. She continues to enjoy high approval ratings among Alaskans, and she would come back a seasoned campaigner with new political chops.

If McCain loses the presidential election, Palin would face re-election as governor in 2010. One of Alaska's two U.S. Senate seats also is up that year, but it's already occupied by a female Republican: Lisa Murkowski. That would be the daughter of Frank Murkowski, the incumbent governor Palin trounced in the 2006 GOP primary on her way to becoming the state's chief executive.

-- Don Frederick

Photo credit: Associated Press