Will Sarah Palin run for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination? Absolutely. Will she be a serious contender for president? It ain’t gonna happen.
Like the all other GOP politicians with their eyes on the White House in 2012, the former governor of Alaska will throw her hat into the ring early next year. That will be the easy part. From there, she will begin to raise money and watch the polls. This will continue throughout the bulk of 2011.
In some ways, 2011 will be to Palin what 1999 was to former Vice President Dan Quayle. If you will remember, Quayle declared his candidacy early that year, but was unable to raise much money or gain any traction in the polls. By the end of the summer – more than six months before the first primary or caucus of the 2000 presidential election season – he was out of the race.
However, unlike Quayle in 1999, Palin will be able to raise money – and lots of it. Trouble is, she has a low ceiling on her poll numbers, even within the Republican Party. I’m not sure where that ceiling is, possibly 10, 15, 20, or perhaps even as high as 25 percent. She does a have an extremely loyal band of supporters and admirers, but outside of those people, she’s not particularly well-liked. In order words, her support is very deep, but not too wide.
Therefore, while her popularity will appear to be growing at first, it will soon begin to stall at a level that will not lend her much hope of capturing her party’s presidential nomination. As political pundits know, the national poll numbers mean very little in the months leading up to the initial nominating contests.
While 25% might seem impressive in the national polls at that point, her problem is going to be in states like Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina, where potential voters would be starting to look closely (and seriously) at all the candidates. I believe she will be having a hard time cracking double digits in any of those places, come November of 2011.
In recent history, it has been impossible to win the Republican presidential nomination without being victorious in at least two of those states, regardless of one’s standing nationally. So, not willing to risk humiliation, she will pull out of the race sometime between Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Even someone like Palin is pragmatic enough to know when to cut and run. At that point, she will call a press conference and say something to the effect of: “I have decided that I can best serve the interests of my party by supporting [fill-in-the-blank] for president.” However, she will never admit that she dropped out because she didn’t think she could win.
And, if offered the vice-presidential nomination, she would gladly accept it again. Why, that would be a win-win situation for her. She would have everything to gain and nothing to lose. If her ticket won in the fall of 2012, she would say, “We won.” If they lost, she would say, “He lost.” From there, she could possibly resurrect her quest for the presidency at some point in the future.