Saturday, January 1, 2011

Can Palin Win the 2012 GOP Nomination? — A Reassessment

In July 2009 I published "Can Palin Win the 2012 GOP Nomination?" That was 18 months ago. It's amazing how time flies, and with the New Year upon us it might be time to rephrase the question: Will 2011 be the year of Sarah Palin?


That's a pretty good bet, I'd say. For all intents and purposes, the race for the 2012 major party nominations begins today. Top-tier candidate announcements should be forthcoming shortly. Hillary Clinton announced her candidacy for the 2008 Democratic nomination on January 20, 2007. Iowa will hold its presidential caucuses on January 16, 2012 (although the final shape of next year's nomination calendar is still up in the air). By this point the buzz is not so much when candidates will formally announce, but how: Facebook or Twitter? YouTube is so four years ago.

Anyway, Nate Silver has an update to his previous analysis, "
Sarah Palin’s Nomination Chances: A Reassessment" (via Memeorandum). Silver focuses on voter enthusiasm, the impact of the 2010 midterms, the competition in the GOP field (and the prospects that some top-tier candidates might wait until 2016), likely media cheerleading for Palin, her advantages as a woman, ideological purity of the GOP primary electorate, likely attempts by the GOP establishment to torpedo Palin's campaign, the historical propensity for the out party to nominate ideological extremists, and Palin's advantages with new media technologies.

My take is that Silver is a bit too infatuated with the role of new technology and blogs, etc., to determine Palin's nomination chances. He spends little time on the factors that I focused on in June 2009. Perhaps most important is fundraising. So far Palin's most formidable competition will likely come from Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee. Newt Gingrich is very likely to announce as well, although I doubt he'll have a serious chance to win the nomination. There's also buzz over Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour and Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, the former who's considered a powerful fundraiser but whose recent gaffe on Jim Crow segregation could hurt him with the establishment media. Others like Mike Pence, Mitchell Daniels, and
John Bolton seem too far off the radar, although again fundraising may be a key indicator or competitiveness. According to an analysis out yesterday, "Romney has raised the most money at $7.4 million, according to Federal Election Commission records. Palin is second at $5.4 million and Pawlenty is third at $3.3 million. The others all raised less than $2 million." But USA Today ran an analysis this week that suggests Barbour could be surprisingly competitive: "GOP fundraising avoids campaign limits through PACs ahead of 2012."

Beyond money is poll standings, especially in the early primary and caucus states. Nationally, Sarah Palin
trailed both Huckabee and Romney in post 2010 midterm election polls, but not by much. And looking at some of the early states, Palin polls well on favorability in Iowa, although she came in fourth in an August 2010 Iowa straw poll (and thus could face tough sledding in the Hawkeye State). She came in third at 18 percent in 2010 election night exit polls in Iowa (Huckabee and Romney tied at 21 percent each). And that buzz is confirmed by Los Angeles Times reporter Mark Barabak, who recently spent time on the ground in Iowa. In New Hampshire, Romney leads at 39 percent, with Palin at 18 percent and Huckabee at 11 percent.

Nate Silver does add some interesting speculation on the effect of Sarah Palin's reputation as the GOP's top tea party representative. And it matters very little whether Palin's endorsed tea party candidates won last November. What matters is how powerful the tea party ends up being in the early primaries. And that in turn depends on political and economic trends this year. A poor economy boosts the prospects for the GOP in 2012 overall, and it could have an exponential impact at the grassroots. Palin could be the key beneficiary of continued Republican economic angst, and that's especially true if gasoline prices continue the upward price trend we saw at the end of 2010. Drill Baby Drill! could once again become a powerful rally cry for Palin's partisans, and it would give her a penetrating wedge against the Obama administration and a leg up on her opponents in the GOP field.

Thus, I'm pretty bullish on Palin's chance to win the 2012 GOP nomination. In that sense I'm the opposite of Charles Krauthammer, usually one of my favorite analysts. I think he dismissed her chances to quickly during his appearance on yesterday's "Inside Washington" broadcast.

Now the general election's another story and I'd side with Krauthammer on that. Flap has more: "Sarah Palin Faces Gloomy New Poll Numbers – But Does It Matter?":
I think Palin could win a multi-way GOP primary election/caucus against Mitt Romney, Mike Huckabee and/or Newt Gingrich. And, win easily and EARLY.

But, can she beat Obama .... ?
BONUS: Will Herman Cain upend all of this expert analysis? See, "'Run, Herman, Run!'," and "More Herman Cain Awesomeness."


Just a conservative girl said...

I don't think there is any doubt that she can win the nomination. It is the general that matters, and so far those numbers don't seem to be moving in the direction that she can.

Anonymous said...

Herman Cain is who we need in the General Election against Obama.

mkfreeberg said...

I think, between the nomination and the general (if she wins the nomination), the nomination would be far more difficult.

The BFABs (big-forehead ankle biters) will come out of the woodwork; their message will be "It doesn't matter if Palin's a dumbass or not, the media will make her LOOK that way! We need to evolve or die! Aaiiigggh!!"

Someone will emerge to compete with her. Smooth and sophisticated, and male. Whoever that person is, that person has needed Palin to be softened up for a couple of years, before he had the balls to stick his head out of the ground...which tells you all you need to know about whether he's the right guy to take on Al Qaeda.

Now if she prevails against that, she gets an enormous boost. There is a vast multitude of people who think we need to do the "smart" thing and put someone "qualified" up against Obama, and Palin is not that person...but if she is that person, they'll vote for her. I'm going to peg this boost at, minimally, eighteen points. Maximum? Thirty points is possible. That's what you need to add to the "Palin" column when you read about a Palin vs. Obama match-up...because the picture changes when the choice changes.

So if she's the nominee, Obama is going down unless Obama has done something to turn this economy around. And I hate to say it, but Obama won't do anything to turn the economy around. This economy needs some freedom before it starts sputtering to life again, and Obama doesn't believe in it.

People may not like it, but whether Palin's willing to take the job or not, is the very last question that remains to be settled.

Dennis said...

Much of this depends upon how much the media is seen as a credible source of reporting. Given that fewer and fewer people have respect for the objectivity, I know that objectivity and media has become an oxymoron, of the Media it is quite possible that the MSM will have little or no affect. They have essentially removed themselves from the dialogue as can be seen from the power of TEA party candidates in the November election. I think that the TEA parties will only grow especially if some in the GOP still have not seen the "writing on the wall."
Also the constant attacks will make her stronger and become background noise of little value to most voters. One can only cast pejoratives and aspersions before they have little or no affect. Palin only has to exceed the expectations of her detractors to make them look badly and I suspect she won't have any problems since they have so lowered the playing field to make Obama look smart that almost anyone who can get by without a teleprompter will look smart.
Much depends upon what she does with the venues that are open to her and how she presents herself to the American public. Given the quality and quantity of her commentary, et al she has a viable chance of winning over a significant number of people. Much of it is up to her and the constituency she needs to court is women.
The Left has lost any power to control the narrative. They will further disgrace themselves because they fear Palin probably more than anyone else. Underestimating someone like Palin seems to be the bailiwick of fools.