Poll: Most Americans say Palin not qualified to serve as president

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Fewer than three in 10 Americans think Sarah Palin's qualified to be president, according to a new national poll -- the least of any of the five potential candidates included in the survey.

But another woman tops that list in the CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released Monday: two-thirds of the public thinks that Secretary of State HIllary Clinton's qualified for the Oval Office. That's more than Vice President Joe Biden, who's currently next in line for the presidency.

According to the poll, 28 percent of Americans say Palin is qualified to run the White House, with seven in 10 saying the former Alaska governor and 2008 Republican vice presidential nominee is not qualified.

The survey indicates that a majority of Republicans, 54 percent, feel Palin is qualified, with 44 percent indicating she isn't. But only 29 percent of independent voters questioned feel she is qualified to serve as president, with 68 percent disagreeing. According to the poll, nine in 10 Democrats feel Palin is not qualified.

The poll's release comes one day before the release of Palin's book, "Going Rogue: An American Life."

"The perception that Palin is not qualified to be president puts her significantly behind two potential rivals for the GOP nomination in 2012 -- Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland.

According to the survey, nearly half of all Americans think Romney is qualified to be president, with 43 percent feeling the same way about Huckabee. Among Republicans, Palin is still lagging other potential 2012 primary candidates: 63 percent of GOPers think that Romney and Huckabee are qualified, 9 points higher than the number that say the same of Palin.

"Palin has many strengths -- recent CNN polls indicate that Americans believe that she is not a typical politician, that she cares about average Americans, and that she is honest and trustworthy," says Holland. "But the perception that she is not qualified for the White House is her biggest Achilles heel."

An ABC News/Washington Post poll also released Monday indicates that 38 percent of Americans say Palin's qualified to serve as president, with six in 10 saying she's not qualified.

The CNN survey indicates that 67 percent of people questioned say that Clinton is qualified to serve in the Oval Office, 17 points higher than the 50 percent of Americans who think that Biden's qualified to take over as president.

Biden's low number may be attributable to negative feelings about the Obama/Biden administration rather than views of Biden personally.

"In the past, poll respondents who dislike an administration have sometimes taken it out on the vice president," say Holland. Polls from the late 1990s showed that Americans felt Al Gore was qualified to be president, but only if respondents were given the chance to say something negative about Gore that was unrelated to his qualifications, he adds. In the Bush administration, the number who thought Dick Cheney was qualified to be president dropped as the administration grew more unpopular. "Cheney's experience in office didn't change during that period -- attitudes toward the Bush/Cheney administration did," he says.

Hillary Clinton also has the advantage of having been able to stay out of domestic policy debates, including health care, the economic stimulus, and other controversial matters, while adding almost daily to her experience in foreign policy, Holland adds, while Biden has been involved in the domestic policy disputes -- "which might explain why some respondents were looking for a reason to say something negative about the veep."

The CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll was conducted November 13-15, with 1,014 adult Americans questioned by telephone. The survey's sampling error is plus or minus 3 percentage points for the overall sample.

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