The Fix: 'Going Rogue' book tour by the numbers

By Chris Cillizza
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, November 19, 2009; 1:01 PM

With so much attention being paid to former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin's book tour, we decided to put our political nerd cap on -- ok, fine, we always wear it -- and go inside the numbers of where she's stopping and why.

All told, Palin is making 31 stops in 25 states. Florida will see the most of Palin (three stops) while she will make two appearances each in Idaho, Indiana, Ohio and Texas. Palin will make not a single stop in populous states like California or Illinois.

The conventional wisdom that Palin is largely sticking to Republican-friendly areas is accurate if you look at the 2008 presidential performance of the counties in which she is stopping.

Of the 31 counties, just 11 were carried by President Barack Obama last November. Obama's best performance in a "Going Rogue" county came in Hennepin County (Minneapolis, MN) where he won 64 percent; he took 59 percent in Franklin County (Columbus, OH), Cumberland County (Fort Bragg, NC) and Orange County (Orlando, FL).

The remainder of the counties in which the Palin road show will visit range from leaning Republican -- Allen County (Fort Wayne), where she will stop today, went for McCain with 52 percent -- to strongly favoring the GOP. Five of the counties where Palin will stop to hock her book -- Kootenai (Cour d'Alene, ID), Chaves (Roswell, NM), Benton (Richland, WA), Sumter (The Villages, FL) and Roanoke (Roanoke, VA) -- went for Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) with 60 percent or more in 2008.

Of course, from a purely commercial perspective, Palin's focus on Republican-leaning areas makes sense as it increases the number of books she can sell and the size of the crowds she can draw.

Whether there is a subtle political motivation within the tour, is, like many things related to Palin, extremely difficult to divine. Politico's Ben Smith, who is on the road with Palin wrote this morning that "the stop in Grand Rapids felt like a political campaign event, not a book tour. For a woman written off as a disorganized celebrity on a tour run by monomaniacal book publicists, Palin and her aides were clearly thinking politics."

And yet, Palin's closest advisers -- to the extent there are any -- insist that a 2012 run for president is simply not in her calculus at the moment and that seeing the book tour through a purely political lens is a mistake.

What's clear is that careful consideration went into the cities, counties and states that Palin would visit on the "Going Rogue" tour. But is it a financial consideration, a political one or a little of both?

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