(CNN) - If Sarah Palin decides to run for the Republican presidential nomination, geography could be decisive, as a new national poll indicates that voters in the south have a more positive opinion of the former Alaska governor than those living in the northeast.
According to a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released Thursday, 45 percent of people in the south have a favorable opinion of the 2008 Republican vice presidential nominee, with 45 percent holding an unfavorable view. But her favorable rating drops to 33 percent in the northeast, where 54 percent have an unfavorable opinion of Palin. Her favorable rating stands at 42 percent in the midwest and 40 percent in the west.
Fifty-five percent of rural Americans have a favorable opinion of Palin, but that drops to 42 percent in the suburbs and down to 27 percent in urban areas.
"It's difficult to handicap the GOP primaries before we know who will be on the ballot, but this is an early indication of the kind of states that Palin might win," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "South Carolina, in particular, could act as a 'firewall' for her, as it has for previous candidates, if she does poorly in a northeastern state like New Hampshire which has several big urban areas."
South Carolina is scheduled to go fourth in the 2012 GOP primary process, following Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada.
Overall, four out of ten say they see Palin in a positive light, with 49 percent saying they hold an unfavorable view.
The survey also indicates a generational divide, with those 50 and older equally divided at 46 percent on their view of Palin, but her favorable rating drops ten points to 36 percent among those under 50, while her unfavorable rating rises to 52 percent.
According to the poll, there's also a slight gender gap, with 42 percent of men and 39 percent of women having a favorable opinion of Palin. Forty-seven percent of men and 51 percent of women have an unfavorable opinion of Palin.
More than eight of out ten Democrats, as expected, have an unfavorable opinion of Palin, and with nearly three-quarters of Republicans having a favorable view. By a 45 to 38 percent margin, independents say they see her in an unfavorable light.
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