EDITOR OF REDSTATE
Judging September 3rd
ABC News has a profile of the upcoming Palin speech and what it may or may not mean. We know for certain that she will not declare her candidacy for the Presidency that day. And despite the wishful thinking of a bunch of others, I really doubt she will endorse anyone else either.
Peter Singleton who I know and respect is one of the volunteers on the ground in Iowa. He’s been there for a while, of his own accord, laying the ground work for a possible Palin bid. He tells ABC News,
he doesn’t think Palin will make an explicit announcement Sept. 3. But he believes it will be “clear” from her “major” and “important” speech that Palin is getting into the race.
Singleton said he thinks the speech will start a “conversation with the American people” and focus on “who we are as a people and what’s at stake in this election and what the primary debate will be on our side.” He said he believes the speech will “lay out her vision for the country, returning to the vision of the founders,” something Palin often speaks about.
Singleton spoke like a soldier waiting to be called into battle.
Unlike Peter, I don’t know that she will. I’m still in the “believe it when I see it” camp. But there are a few things I think need to be focused on.
First of all, take the latest PPP poll out of Iowa.
Without Palin in the race, it is Perry at 22%, Romney at 19%, Bachmann at 18%, and Ron Paul at 16%.
If Sarah Palin gets into the race, it is Perry at 21% (-1), Romney at 18% (-1), Bachmann at 15% (-3), and Ron Paul at 12% (-4). Palin would be at 10%.
In other words, Palin’s entry would not shake up the race terribly at this point and surprisingly would impact Ron Paul the most, though the leader board would remain the same.
Then there is the Gallup poll.
According to Gallup, Palin has 97% name recognition, which is up 2% from the last time I checked. But she still has only 12% ballot support. Likewise, her “positive intensity” is in Romney territory.
This suggests a few things to me.
First, I think we are coming to the end of the line for Sarah Palin’s ability to string the Republican primary voters along. They are trying to settle on a candidate now, they’ve held out hope of her entry, and are now ready for her to put up or shut up. Many of them have already moved on.
Second, I think Palin could get back a number of voters should she get into the race — people who gave up on her running and moved on to someone else. But, I do not think it would put her in a strong enough position to get into first or second place.
All of the above suggests, if Palin got in, it would not be hers for the taking as many of her supporters might think. Instead, she’d struggle for third place and not be guaranteed, even in Iowa, of a strong finish. She’d also have to get into the debates and endure the media pile on — again.
Let’s also not forget that enduring a lengthy primary season on a national campaign trail is a different animal from being on a national general election campaign trail as the Vice Presidential nominee. The debating is different, the attacks are different (though I think we’ve seen everything we’ll ever see), and the candidate interactions are different.
There’s never been a candidate to get a more thorough examination by the media, the left, and the right. Sarah Palin has withstood the slings, barbs, bullets, and arrows that would have fallen a lesser person. But even that is no sure thing, given that she has become so familiar as a person to so many Republican voters that she no longer excites a sufficient number as she once did to enter the race in a strong position. 97% name recognition, 12% support, and positive intensity equivalent to Mitt Romney is not a good thing for Sarah Palin.
I am in the “believe it when I see it” camp. If Sarah Palin gets in, it will make for an even more awesome primary spectacle and will hopefully cause Jon Huntsman’s head to fully explode. What I do know for certain is that if Sarah Palin does not use the September 3rd speech to make clear which way she is headed, I think she will accelerate the number of people holding out hope who decide to go all in for a different candidate. And I don’t think those people, finally frustrated enough to give up, will come back.
It will, however, give the media an extension on its ability to use Fred Thompson’s entry in 2008 as a useful storyline for 2012.