The Race For The White House: 20% of Republicans Choose Palin; She Leads Romney

June 16, 2011, 5:00 PM GMT+0

Former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin now leads other candidates — announced and potential – among Republicans in the latest Economist/YouGov Poll. Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney is in second place, in the wake of an official announcement of his candidacy for President. Former mayor of New York, Rudy Giuliani, also does well, especially with liberal leaning Republicans. 

Women do not automatically gravitate to Sarah Palin, the most prominent female candidate in the field. In fact, there is a gender difference, with Palin faring better among men and Romney faring better among women. The popularity of candidates has shifted since February, when an Economist/YouGov Poll found Romney tied with former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee. Since then, Huckabee has taken himself out of the race. In the February poll, Palin and former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich were tied for second place.

Both Romney and Palin are liked by most Republicans, although about one in four Republicans have unfavorable opinions of each of them. Among all voters, it is a different story. Americans are divided fairly evenly in their opinion of Romney; Sarah Palin continues to evoke negative reactions from a majority of adults. 

Do you have a favorable or an unfavorable opinion of Mitt Romney?








Don’t know



Do you have a favorable or an unfavorable opinion of Sarah Palin?








Don’t know



One other prominent Republican candidate, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, has seen his fortunes fall since February in the poll, as he struggles with his campaign organization. 5% of Republicans support him, a drop from 13% in February, and ranking him just below some as-yet-unannounced possibilities. Favorable assessments of Gingrich have also fallen since February, even among Republicans, who now are closely divided in their opinion of the former Speaker. In February, Republicans were more than three times as likely to view him favorably as unfavorably. 

Winning the Republican nomination is one thing, but then the actual nominee will have to face Barack Obama in the 2012 fall election. All three of these contenders currently trail the incumbent, though Romney fares best. 

The Republicans may be behind Obama right now, but the incumbent is a President who divides the country. Barack Obama’s approval rating in this poll is 43%, with 49% disapproving. This national division has been visible in these polls for months. 

Explore more data & articles