Darren McCollester/Getty Images
Former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin speaks at a Tea Party rally in Boston. Palin will be speaking in Anaheim, California later this week.
Jon Wiener teaches US history at UC Irvine. His most recent book is Historians in Trouble.
Sarah Palin is coming to California this weekend, but the state's top Republican candidates will be elsewhere while she speaks at a fundraiser in Anaheim on Saturday.
Carly Fiorina, running behind Barbara Boxer in the Senate race, explained: "There are all sorts of people who have endorsed me that I don't appear with."
Meg Whitman, the challenger to Jerry Brown who has spent $120 million of her own money on her campaign, won't be there because she has "competing campaign events that day," according to a spokesman.
The real reason why the state's top Republican candidates are avoiding Sarah Palin can be found in the new polls: most Californians don't like Sarah Palin. According to last week's Field Poll, 69 percent of the state's independent voters say they have an "unfavorable" impression of the former Alaska governor.
Pollsters asked registered voters, "If Sarah Palin were to endorse a candidate for political office in California, would this make you more inclined or less inclined to vote for the candidate?"
Only nine percent of independents answered "more inclined." 66 percent said "less inclined."
And since California is a Democratic state — Obama won 60 per cent of the vote here in 2008 — Republican candidates for statewide office can't win without the support of a lot of independent voters. That's what Arnold Schwarzenegger did.
One question remains: why would Sarah Palin campaign in a state where she's so unpopular with key voters and where the top GOP candidates don't want to be seen with her?
The answer is simple: 2012.
A lot of Republicans in the state love Palin. Only 18 percent of Republicans in that same poll report a "negative" impression of her. If she is going to run for president in 2012, she needs two things from California: votes in the primary, and money. And Orange County has provided lots of votes and lots of money for Republicans for the last fifty years.
Polls show that both Meg Whitman and Carly Fiorina will lose on Nov. 2. But that's not Sarah Palin's problem. When she comes to Anaheim on Saturday, she will be laying the groundwork for herself in 2012.