Poll: Palin's support still strong among GOP

Sarah Palin's bombshell that she is resigning as Alaska governor actually has boosted her a bit among Republicans, a nationwide USA TODAY/Gallup Poll finds, though it also has dented her standing among Democrats and independents.

Two-thirds of Republicans want Palin, the party's vice presidential nominee in 2008, to be "a major national political figure" in the future. Three-fourths of Democrats hope she won't be.

Independents by 55%-34% would prefer she leave the national stage.

The findings underscore how polarized opinions of Palin were even before Friday's surprise announcement. Seven in 10 polled say their views weren't affected by her decision. Among those whose opinions shifted, Democrats by a 4-1 ratio and independents by 2-to-1 view her less favorably. Republicans are somewhat inclined to see her more favorably.

"For independents and Democrats, she's already not their candidate, and with Republicans her support is not based on her record as governor of Alaska," says GOP consultant Alex Castellanos.

The poll Monday of 1,000 adults — including 321 Democrats, 323 independents and 316 Republicans — has a margin of error of +/–3 percentage points for the full sample and 6 points for the partisan subsamples.

Palin's complaints about unfair treatment by the news media resonate with many respondents. Three-fourths of Republicans, more than half of independents and a third of Democrats say coverage of Palin has been unfairly negative.

When it comes to a potential presidential run, the USA TODAY Poll displays Palin's strength in the Republican base and weakness among swing voters, who traditionally decide national elections. Republicans by 71%-27% say they'd be likely to vote for her if she ran for president in 2012, while independents by 51%-44% would not.

"Don't know what the future holds," Palin said Tuesday on ABC. "I'm not gonna shut any door. That — who knows what doors open?"

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