The Monday Fix: Is Palin running for president in 2012?
Monday, November 23, 2009
With so much attention being paid to Sarah Palin's book tour, the Fix decided to put our political nerd cap on -- okay, fine, we always wear it -- and go inside the numbers of where she's stopping and why.
All told, the former Alaska governor is making 31 stops in 25 states. Florida will see the most of Palin (three stops), and she will make two appearances each in Texas, Ohio, Indiana and Idaho.
Palin will not stop in the most populous state -- California -- or in another biggie, Illinois. She is sticking largely to Republican-friendly areas, as is clear if you look at how the counties she's visiting voted in the 2008 presidential election.
Of the 31 counties, just 11 were carried by President Obama. Obama's best performance in a "Going Rogue" county came in Hennepin County (Minneapolis), where he won 64 percent of the vote; he took 59 percent in Franklin County (Columbus, Ohio), Cumberland County (Fort Bragg, N.C.) and Orange County (Orlando).
The remainder of the counties in which the Palin road show will stop range from leaning Republican -- Allen County (Fort Wayne, Ind.), where Palin stopped last week, went for Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) with 52 percent -- to strongly favoring the GOP. In five of the counties -- Kootenai (Coeur d'Alene, Idaho), Chaves (Roswell, N.M.), Benton (Richland, Wash.), Sumter (The Villages, Fla.) and Roanoke (Roanoke, Va.), 60 percent or more of the voters chose the McCain-Palin ticket.
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. (Palin seems to be having little trouble unloading books -- "Going Rogue" sold 300,000 copies on the day it was released.)
Whether there is a subtle political motivation within the tour, is, like many things related to Palin, difficult to divine. Reporters' early reviews of the tour suggested a campaign feel, and in interviews the former governor granted to conservative commentators, she left the door open to a 2012 presidential bid.
And yet, Palin's closest advisers insist that a 2012 run is not in her calculus and that seeing the book tour through a purely political lens is a mistake.
Steering the GOP
The Republican Governors Association met last week in Austin, a gathering where -- for the first time in recent memory -- the GOP had something to celebrate: the victories of governors-elect Chris Christie (N.J.) and Bob McDonnell (Va.) .
While these gatherings always feel like a high school pep rally before the big football game, it's clear that the victories, coupled with the energetic (if unfocused) reaction of the party's base to the Obama administration's policies, have given Republicans more reason for optimism than at any time since the 2004 election.
To be clear, that is a relatively low bar. Republicans went into the political wilderness after George W. Bush's reelection as he grew less popular, and it became increasingly clear that the party was either unable or unwilling to break with the chief executive. Polls suggest that the Republican brand remains badly damaged in the eyes of the American public, with most people still trusting Obama far more than Republicans in Congress to solve the major problems of the day.
With 2010 right around the corner, below you'll find our rankings of the five Republicans with the most influence in the party's direction. This is not -- and should not be read as -- a list of who is most likely to get the GOP nod in 2012. It's still too early for that kind of handicapping.