Majority of conservatives think Palin’s endorsements are aimed at helping her, not GOP

Holly Bailey
The Upshot

Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin has repeatedly insisted that she's only focusing now on helping to elect GOP candidates around the country. But a new CBS/New York Times poll finds that even conservatives don't buy that argument.

According to the poll, two out of three voters overall say they believe Palin's endorsements are motivated by the desire to stay "in the public eye," while just 18 percent believe she's acting out of the desire to "elect conservative candidates." Among conservatives alone, a majority — 53 percent — think she's doing it for the attention, while 29 percent say she's trying to help GOP candidates.

Still, as other recent polls have found, the survey questions the effectiveness of Palin's endorsements. A majority of so-called tea party members (57 percent) and Republicans (61 percent) polled said a Palin endorsement wouldn't affect who they vote for in the upcoming 2010 midterms. Still, that number doesn't reflect  the enormous publicity push that a Palin endorsement gives a candidate, particularly when it comes to raising money.

This latest poll comes against the backdrop of the ongoing "will she or won't she" mystery about Palin's intentions in the 2012 GOP presidential contest. Shushannah Walshe, who covered Palin for Fox News in 2008 and co-wrote a book about the onetime VP candidate, writes in a Daily Beast piece today that current and former Palin staffers believe she's prepping for presidential run — though good luck getting anyone to say that on the record.

"No one has been told directly, but staffers are working under the assumption that she's running," a former Palin aide, who declined to be named, told Walshe. "It has become very apparent to everyone on her staff that she is preparing to run for president. The staff is now working. They are writing speeches, preparing talking points, picking congressmen to endorse all under the umbrella of what you would do two years out before running for president and that's their understanding."

Still, it's unlikely we'll learn before the end of the year what Palin's plans are for her political future. Just a few weeks after Election Day, her reality show, "Sarah Palin's Alaska," is set to premiere on TLC. Under election law, if Palin were to declare her bid for the 2012 GOP nomination, her TLC show and her position as a paid analyst on Fox News would count as illegal contributions to her campaign.

(Photo of Palin by Brandi Simons/AP)