According to the latest Harris Interactive Poll (which is an online poll so to be viewed with caution) in a head to head match up President Obama would lead Governor Palin by 17% (52%-35%) should the election be held today. If we accept that the poll is more or less accurate then, based on comparatively recent historical precedent, there is every reason to view this result in a highly positive manner.
In the 1988 campaign, as documented by Goldman and Mathews "Quest For The Presidency 1988" Vice President, as he was then, George H.W. Bush, with all the power of office and as second in command to a hugely popular president, was at the commencement of campaigning in May of that year 16 percentage points behind the challenger Michael Dukakis who was polling (KRC Hotline poll) at 54% compared to Bush at 38%.
After the Democratic Party held their July convention the Gallup poll result was Dukakis 54% and Bush 37% a seemingly insurmountable 17% lead with only just about four months campaigning time left against a fired up opposition.The result on election day however was Bush 53.4% and Dukakis 45.7 %. A massive turnaround for Bush changing a 17% deficit into a near 8% winning margin.
Palin, according to Harris has exactly the same 17% deficit that Bush had with the obvious difference being that she has not three months or so to catch up and pass Obama but two years and seven months. Statistically she has to improve by an average of only 0.55% per month over 31 months. Given Palin's incredible capacity to recover from the most vicious campaign ever mounted against a candidate, her growth in stature as each month passes, the massive support/structural base in people (including the many candidates she is helping to get elected or re-elected) and money she is building up it would be foolhardy in the extreme to believe she is not capable of achieving that result.
It is interesting to consider the opinions of Bush's inner circle, who gave him only 60-40 odds of winning as their private polls showed a deficit of 18% at the commencement of the campaign, and the authors comment that "The press and political industry had already been consigning him to an early (political ) grave". This of Bush who, with respect is not perceived as the sort of fighter that Palin is by nature, but rather had to be dragooned into mounting an effective campaign by his handlers.
There is a striking point of similarity between the elder Bush and Palin however which is clear by this comment "To be sure he had values....he could fairly claim to have lived an exemplary life of service to God, country and family and to the ideals of honor, achievement and common decency". As this is a true and valid comment on Palin too there is no reason to doubt that those shared values will enable her to overcome the same electoral challenges-especially given the much longer time frame she has to work in.
It is instructive also to note that as late as August in the 1948 election Harry Truman was eleven points behind Dewey and ended up winning by 4.5% (49.55/45.07). President Ford was, as late as July 1976 an incredible 33% points behind Jimmy Carter and on election day lost by 2% (50.08% for Carter to 48.02% to Ford) an incredible recovery by Ford which makes Palin's hurdle pale into insignificance. It is more than probable in fact that if Ford had not made such a terrible gaffe about the Soviets influence in Eastern Europe he would have won.
If Palin wants and receives the nomination the ultimate prize is very much there to be won.