"Nearly half of the Republican Primary voters who support Sarah Palin say they are at least somewhat likely to vote for a third-party candidate if she does not win the GOP presidential nomination."Palin is not the only candidate inspiring intense loyalty, but she has a big edge on her main competitors. Percentage of supporters who say "they are at least somewhat likely to vote third-party":
46% of those who back Palin (with 22% very likely)
35% of those who favor Huckabee (with 13% very likely)
31% of Romney supporters (with 9% very likely)
Palin supporters, the biggest group of possible third party jumpers, are also the most active and enthusiastic. That's what makes 10,000+ rallies a pick up game for Sarah Palin and almost unattainable for any other Republican candidate. As the saying goes, Palin's supporters would crawl through broken glass to vote for her. Huckabee and Romney supporters--not so much.
Whether these voters do go third party, stay home, or vote Republican holding their nose, a key factor is going to be enthusiasm. The hordes who were out for George W. Bush in 2004 are unlikely to be out for anyone but Palin, not to mention for the still unknown, dull, gray candidate some pundits are calling for. Boots on the ground and fundraising will be crucial in 2012 against charismatic Barack Obama.
A further complicating factor is the candidate bashing that has been directed at Governor Palin. These unusual pre-candidacy attacks by the Republican Party establishment and beltway insiders have alienated many Palin supporters from the GOP. Sarah Palin may be the only candidate able to bring them back into the party.
Voters are not game pieces that can be moved around the board at will. Sarah Palin inspires one of the highest levels of personal commitment among voters of any political candidate in modern times. Pundits and strategists hyping the conventional wisdom that Governor Palin can't win had better go back to the drawing board. More likely Palin is the only Republican candidate who can win.