Palin Says She Could Beat Obama In An Election That Will Be Held In 720 Days

On the face of it, it's a silly thing to be talking about.  The next presidential election won't be held for another 720 days.

Nonetheless, the conclusion of the 2010 election means that 2012 is upon us.  The visits to Iowa and New Hampshire, especially by Republicans, have begun.

And now, in an interview with ABC News' Barbara Walters, Sarah Palin "says she is seriously considering a run for the White House, and she believes she could beat President Obama in 2012."

The interview will run on Dec. 9 as part of Walters' "10 Most Fascinating People" of 2010.

This wouldn't be the first time Palin said she was thinking about running.  In a profile that will run in this Sunday's New York Times magazine, Palin said that she is weighing a run, "having that discussion with my family."  And last month, the former Alaska governor said on Entertainment Tonight that "if there's nobody else to do it, then of course I would believe that we should do this."

Very few people are neutral about Palin.  An AP poll released earlier this month showed her with a 46 percent favorable rating and a 49 percent unfavorable one.  But those identified as Republicans or GOP-leaning independents, the favorable number jumped to 79 percent.

What few can deny is that she has a following.  Her new reality show on the TLC network, "Sarah Palin's Alaska," premiered last night and drew nearly five million viewers, the highest rated launch of a new program in TLC history.

But is she too polarizing to beat Obama?

First, let's take a look at Obama's job approval numbers.  According to the Gallup Poll, for the week of Nov. 8-14, it was 44 percent approve, 48 percent disapprove.  Those numbers don't look much better than Palin's.  Both have their defenders, and both have their opponents, but neither seems to be especially popular right now.

Things can, and will, change by election day 2012.  The numbers for Palin and Obama may look nothing like they are now.  (Just think about what the political landscape looked like two years ago, after Obama's election.  A lifetime ago.)

And while this comparison may seem a bit facile, for Democrats to say — and they do, over and over again — that they would LOVE to run against Palin in 2012, it might be worth remembering that they said the same thing about Ronald Reagan going into 1980.

And we all know how that turned out.

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