New poll finds Palin within striking distance of Obama in 2012

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Palin's support, according to the poll, is greater than that of Texas Gov. Rick Perry, the current front-runner for the Republican nomination, whom Obama leads 50 percent to 41 percent, according to the poll. 

Independents are evenly divided between Perry and Obama, showing a possible window for Palin.

Palin, who is a paid Fox News contributor, acknowledged to Fox News's Sean Hannity that she would likely need to make her decision next month to make sure that she was on the ballot and legally eligible in the coming Republican primaries. 

“You do, I mean legally you do,” she said. “But I do think Sean, this is going to be such an unconventional election cycle. … Mark my word, it is going to be an unconventional type of election process.”

But will the race be unconventional enough that the GOP would embrace the former Alaska governor, who some establishment Republicans have criticized as prioritizing her celebrity over her political career? 

The McClatchy poll again provides encouraging news for Palin: Some 81 percent say that they would vote for her, compared with 60 percent last month. Palin may be capitalizing on growing support among the Tea Party ranks, in which 87 percent of voters back Palin, versus 70 percent last month.

Still, the poll was also conducted before scandalous reports from author Joe McGinniss's new book Going Rogue emerged. And the race could prove a difficult one for Palin, says Lee M. Miringoff, director of The Marist College Institute for Public Opinion, who helped conduct the poll.

"On the one hand, President Obama’s re-election numbers are very low. On the other hand, no GOP potential opponent has stepped up to the plate and demonstrated sufficient electoral power to beat him,” Miringoff said in a news release.