Without question Sarah Palin inflicted damage to the Republican Party in 2008.  Her nomination by John McCain made John, and the Republican Party look foolish, and created a lack of confidence in their judgment.  It seemed that their interest was in getting elected, instead of doing what was in the best interest of the country.  Three years have passed, and little has changed.

The Republican Debates have turned into a circus.  We have watched as the leading candidates imploded, from Bachmann, Cain, Perry, Gingrich, and now Romney.  Each has all fallen from grace, and position in the polls.  Originally there were to be 17 GOP debates.  Then there were 20.   These Republican debates have increasingly turned into verbal wrestling matches of personal negative assaults. They have been damaging not only to the candidates but also to public respect for the candidates who participated in them, and the Republican party as well.

http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/opinion/oped/bs-ed-witcover-debates-20110221,0,1793715.story .  As each of these candidates rose, and then fell in approval ratings, there was one overriding feeling of disbelief that the Republican Party could put forth candidates who were so clearly inept.  Underlying all the debates was the assumption that Mitt Romney would prevail, and eventually get the nomination.  Yet, the candidates who are clearly not popular enough to get elected, have inflicted serious damage on Romney and the Republican Party.

According to the new Pew Research poll, Independents are fleeing Mitt Romney and embracing President Obama at a brisk clip. Obama’s support with Independents now tops 50%.  The new Pew Research poll found that Mitt Romney is in the midst of an epic slide with Independent voters. In November, Romney led Obama, 53%-42% with Independents. The margin stayed just about the same in mid-January as Romney led the president, 50%-40% with Independents, but something has happened over the past month as Independents now support Obama, 52%-44%.  President Obama has gained eleven points with Independents over the last month, while Mitt Romney has lost eight points. The problem for Mitt Romney is that trust in him has collapsed. The number of Independents who believed Romney to be honest and trustworthy has dropped from 52%-41%, while the those who don’t believe that he is honest and trustworthy has risen thirteen points, from 32%-45%.   It is the Republicans who must be credited with this decline in popularity of Romney. In their struggle to establish which candidate the Republicans would nominate, the Republican candidates, and Sarah Palin in particular, has suggested that the test for the nomination was which candidate was conservative enough.    By making this the test, Sarah Palin has alienated the Independent voters, and thus helped Obama in his quest for re-election.

Mitt Romney now trails Rick Santorum, the master of dead-baby etiquette, among Republican voters nationally by 10 points, 36 percent to 26 percent, according the latest Gallup daily tracking poll. In his native state of Michigan, which holds its primary in a week, Romney trails Santorum by an average of three points in the latest polls.   There is no debate that Santorum is “more conservative” than Romney.  Although Santorum is more conservative than Romney, and that may generate enthusiasm among “Republicans,” it doesn’t appeal to the Independent voters.  A whopping 30% of voters are self-identified as “independent”.    Thus if either party alienates independent voters, they do so at their peril.  Sarah Palin’s “non-endorsement,” and Todd’s endorsement of Newt Gingrich has not resulted in improvement in his poll numbers (15%).    As Santorum gains voters in the Republican primary, and Mitt Romney declines in popularity, it seems the chances of a Republican victory in November also decline.  Way to go Sarah.