The obvious reaction to the abdication of gubernatorial responsibility by one Mrs. Sarah Palin is to say "Stick a fork in her. She's done." Perhaps.
Personally, I think a run in 2012 is not out of the question. Neither is winning the GOP primary. We saw this is the GOP campaign last year...the Talk-radio Republicans hated McCain, absolutely hated him, no matter how hard he tried to kowtow to the whims and wishes of the idiots. I was just watching Hannity the other night, and Coultergeist was on; they were talking about 2012, she demonstrated her bitterness by insulting McCain twice for his poor performance in 2008.
Not that that's anything unexpected from Miss Congeniality, but it's a given that she, Hannity, Rush, Beck, Goldberg, (and even van Susteren now) are ready to go to war over Palin. They want a pro-Gun, Pro-Fetus*, Anti-Guberment candidate as their nominee and they won't accept anything less in 2012.**
But maybe, perhaps, she would rather run in 2016, when conditions will be similar to 2008 (no incumbent from the opposition party will be running)
Also, Palin will want to put a tad more distance between her and those Charlie Gibson/Katie Couric interviews. By 2016 she may be able to market herself has having learned more on foreign policy, etc in the intervening years. Many have brought up this scenario as comparable to how Nixon lost in 1960, and then made a comeback to win in 1968.
But what if Palin has another role model in mind? Namely that of Hilary Clinton? When Hilary ran for the NY Senate in 2000, nobody doubted that it was a setup for a 2008 run, but she was embraced wholeheartedly, nonetheless.
Could Palin do such a thing? It would be hard, but possible.
Even her most vocal supporters admit that, if she has higher aspirations, operating out of Alaska would be rough. It’s physically distant, and has no cities that are anywhere near being a media-market hotspot. Everyone agrees that she must be closer to "where the action is".
The question I have is, will she spend inordinate amounts of time and money traveling back and forth to Wasilla, or will she at least purchase a small apartment or condominium in Washington D.C. to operate out of? ( C Street????)
Or, would she go whole hog, relocate, and run for governor or senator for another state? Such a move would immediately raise charges of carpetbagging, but the right-wing would immediately counter with "Well Hilary did the same thing". (Note: Palin has the freedom to toy with any number of ideas as Fox and Rush Limbaugh will protect her to the fullest; they will act as a staunch bulwark against any criticism)
One big problem for her is that, even in the relatively short time she has been on the political stage, she has become closely identified with Alaska; it's not just where she was born and raised, it's her brand. It's who and what she is.
Hilary, though, had no such connection with either Illinois nor Arkansas, and her star quality made her (and Bill Clinton) a perfect match for New York.
Sarah Palin has star quality too, however, that’s only in conservative circles. Therefore if she wanted to relocate, it would have to be a reliable red state, hospitable to hardcore conservative principles. With the GOP nearly dead in the Northeast, The Mid-Atlantic, and the West Coast, and on life-support in the Great Lakes area and the Southwest, this becomes more of a challenge than just packing up a few Mayflower trucks.
Her choices are limited to states that either went for McCain in 2008, or, went for George W. Bush in 2004 and were lost narrowly by just a few margin points in 2008.
North Carolina or Virginia? Possible, though highly unlikely. Both these states have been getting progressively bluer over the last decade. Being in Virginia, I can tell you that Republicans are extinct in Northern VA districts, which, by 2012 and 2016 will only have grown in population. The cities of North Carolina are on a similar trend. (Ironically, if Virginia was more hospitable to conservatives, and Palin wanted to try to run for Virginia governor in 2013, she would have a good excuse to start running in 2016 as the office is limited to one-term only.)
Indiana? It went for Obama in 2008, but just barely. Palin would have a lot of supporters here, but the carpetbagging issue wouldn’t be so easy to shake off. Unlike New York, California or Washington D.C., which are well-known magnets for out-of-staters, Indiana is fiercely proud of its cultural identity. Missouri, which McCain barely won, and has the same number of electoral votes would be much the same.
Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming or Idaho? These are solid Repub states, (although Obama almost took Montana and a district in Nebraska) and they’re very close in nature to Alaska: filled with lots of natural land, large populations of hunters and fishermen, and in-general, libertarian-minded-government-off-our-backs folk who embrace the same ideals as Palin. Any one of these states might very well embrace Palin.
The problem here is that, just like Alaska, none of these states gets much notice. For better or worse they are smack dab in "flyover country" Also, they have twenty electoral votes combined. (This is of course is one of the biggest failings for the GOP in future national elections: the states they can reliably depend on tend to be sparsely populated, while Purple and Blue states are largely growing in population)
South Carolina, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, or Tennessee? The deep south is still a tough nut to crack for Dems. Any one of these areas would go crazy for Palin. The only question is would the cultural differences become too much to surmount? Palin shares the same values as the south, but not the heritage. As mentioned with Indiana, that’s important down here.
Utah? While I'm not vastly familiar with Utah politics, it seems that being a Mormon is a pre-requisite to acceptance in politics here. So no.
Arkansas or West Virginia? The schizophrenic states; if these two would vote the same way in nationals the way they do in statewide elections, Dems would have a lot less to worry about in Presidential elections. But these are solid votes for Repub candidates. But Palin could probably not get elected for a statewide seat.
Florida? It’s a crazy-quilt of constituencies (bible-belters in the panhandle, the cosmopolitan Miami, and everything in-between). But looking at past and current governors and congressmen, the state tends to elect moderate republicans. It would give Palin a red-hot spotlight if she could get elected there, but a candidacy by her would automatically result in high voter registration for no other reason then people wouldn’t be able to wait to vote against her. (All you have to do is look at how donations flooded into Obama’s campaign after the announcement of Sarah Palin’s pick, to measure her unlikeability numbers)
Georgia? Georgia of course contains Atlanta, the giant of the Southern cities. Like Florida, winning elected office here raises her stature considerably.
Texas? Provided that they don’t secede from the union in the next few years, one would have to imagine that Texas would be the nearest proximation to Hilary’s relocation to New York. Both Texas and Georgia are two places where Palin could (with deft political maneuvering) be welcomed with open arms, make a name for herself and run for the presidency in 2016, (which, let’s remember is a mere 7 years away, and she’ll only be 52 years old). A move to Georgia or Texas does not even have to involve her running for office. What’s important for her prospects for 2012 or 2016 is visibility and proximity to the media, which she simply can’t get in Alaska.
She may also start a business, or be hired as an executive in a pre-existing organization. That might be a better strategy for her. After all, her brand is built on "executive experience" and therefore needs to build up her bona fides in that area. Romney will be on the prowl in 2012 as well, and it’s hard to beat him in that arena.
I’m sure there are those that will read this and think, "Pipe dream! There’s no way in the world this is happening, especially not in my state!" But let’s remember, we’re not talking about just anybody. The conservatives love Sarah Palin to death. For her, they’re willing to make exceptions to the rules. Does she have anything going for her other than her staunch pro-Fetus, pro-gun and anti-government stances? No. But then, for today’s conservatives there is nothing else needed. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, take a grapefruit, stick both an NRA badge and a "It’s Not A Child, It’s a Choice" sticker on it, and prop it up on Fox News for a few hours a day, and it could easily win at least 20% of the vote in a general election.
I will not stick the metaphorical fork in Sarah Palin. I do not believe she’s done. She will be back, it’s just a question of what form her next incarnation will take.
*Everyone else calls them Pro-Life; I call them "pro-fetus" because, as evidence shows, their concern for human well-being ends once actual birth has taken place.
**I believe that 2012 will be the year the Republicans will either make a stunning comeback or will collapse into a smoking wreck. One of the big controversies inherent in a Sarah Palin run is the lunatic fringe of the party will claim ownership of the GOP over any opposition. A war between the moderates and the hard-core is inevitable.