Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, once considered a top candidate for 2012 GOP presidential nomination after sharing the ticket with Sen. John McCain last year, leaves the governor's office this weekend with an increasingly negative image and concerns over the depth of her intellect that threaten any future political candidacy.
Just four in 10 voters now hold a favorable view of Palin overall -- a new low, down from 58 percent last year, an ABC News/Washington Post poll has found. A majority of 53 percent now view her unfavorably, a perilous figure for any public office seeker.
Nevertheless, some political strategists still see a future for Palin in politics, should she choose to pursue one.
"I always thought Sarah Palin had very strong candidate skills, and I think if she wants to run for office there are clearly Republicans out there that like what they hear. She'll certainly have a receptive audience if she runs for office," said Republican strategist Terry Nelson, who has advised President George W. Bush and Senator John McCain in the past.
But the current poll numbers are not insignificant, says Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia Center for Politics.
"What's driving it is the resignation and all the controversy," Sabato told ABC News. "Palin's become a grand soap opera that's playing out in places where a presidential candidate does not want to be."
Palin's bombshell July 3 announcement that she will quit as governor this Sunday spurred speculation about a grassroots presidential run in 2012.
As the GOP wunderkind from Wasilla, Alaska, wraps up her abortive single term as governor dishing out hot dogs with three days of farewell picnics in Wasilla, Anchorage and Fairbanks, political analysts are scratching their heads over just what Palin is up to, and whether leaving public office could possibly improve her future electoral fortunes.
"This is a major blow to any presidential aspiration she may have, whether she recognizes it or not, because it's deadly," Sabato said of Palin's surprise resignation. "Her Republican opponents -- and a Democrat, if she's a nominee -- can say she up and quit."
Nevertheless, supporters say Palin, who already has a lucrative book contract in hand, has plenty of options.
"Her future is whatever she wants it to be," Republican strategist Carl Forti told ABC News. "If that's TV entertainment or politics. But running for president takes more than charisma. It's a hard road she can't do alone. If she intends to run she needs to build a team and get better educated on the issues."
"She could be a commentator," Nelson said. "Other things I'll be looking for: What is the focus of her book? Does she get involved with some foundation? Does she try to do something that puts some thought leadership into some issues? Right now she's defined as a personality -- not a lot of people would ascribe issues to her other than personality."
Palin's official explanation for her surprise July 3 statement that she would leave office with a year-and-a-half left in her first term is that she wants to spare Alaska the cost of multiple ethics complaints.