In early August, Karl Rove foretold that Sarah Palin’s August/September schedule looked suspiciously like an impending Presidential candidacy. If Candidate Palin was a stock, we’d be shorting it right about now.
Palin’s numbers have never been great. They haven’t improved significantly with time. And now with Perry in the race, there’s no real need for her. Perry fires up the base, he’s a Tea Party approved candidate, he talks back to the media, and he gives leftists seizures. Translation: whatever his faults, he’s kind of perfect. He has all of Palin’s strengths, and not as many of her weaknesses.
The path for Palin to become President requires and demands that Obama’s approval rating falls under 30%. But what would cause a sub-30% approval rating? Obama found under a desk with Kal Penn in a blue dress? (Even then, the media would dismiss it as a non-story). A major terrorist attack on U.S. soil? A market crash? A viral caught-on-video moment that makes Obama look bad (in a way that middle-of-the-road voters can no longer deny)?
If Palin anticipates any of those things happening, then, by all means, she should run. But otherwise it’s a gamble. Without a huge Obama disaster she’d need to beat Obama and the mainstream media straight up. That’s David versus two Goliaths. Can Palin convince enough Americans who despise her to vote for her? Just as there are moderate Americans who feel uncomfortable disapproving of Obama because they don’t want to look racist or hate on the guy, there are those Americans who feel uncomfortable giving Palin a chance because they don’t want to alienate their more strident Obama-loving neighbors.
Contrary to her media portrayal, Palin is not an overly ambitious dummy. She has cagey instincts and recognizes the importance of this election and the need to unseat Obama. She has a sense of her unpopularity, why it exists, and whether it can be overcome in the next year.
What she has been doing these past number of months around the country is mobilizing her support. In a matter of months when election season kicks in in earnest, she’s going to be out of the public eye for awhile. She wants to leave one last impression for her fans and for Republican voters. If all goes according to plan, her services won’t be needed until 2020 when the stink of America’s distaste for her might have worn off just enough to make her palatable. Hillary Clinton had to have a similar thawing period with the public from 2000 to 2008, and when she returned to the scene she was the Presidential front-runner.
The question is, what does Palin do for the next 8 years? Does she need to be in office? Probably. And it may not be worth it to her to run and risk losing a Senate bid in Alaska (she has a better sense of her popularity there than I do, but to this naked eye it looks more like Murkowski country than Palin-ville). She’d be smarter to establish a residence in a bloody red, barbecue Red State stronghold where she’s beloved and can waltz into office any election year she wants with an easy victory (as Hillary did when she carpet-bagged her way to a New York senate seat). As a Senator she can vote her Tea Party conscience, stay relevant, and remain in the public eye.