The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Despite poll findings, there is still a big audience that isn’t tired of Sarah Palin

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An NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Annenberg poll released on Wednesday reveals something that an exasperated portion of the country likely feels is overdue: The majority of Americans -- 54 percent -- wish that Sarah Palin would step back into the shadows of public discourse. As we noted, that includes over 60 percent of Democrats and almost 40 percent of Republicans.

Meaning that Sarah Palin must constrain her possible media audience to only 46 percent of the population of the United States, and a little over half of her party. Somehow, we doubt she'll starve.

Palin has been remarkably adept at parlaying her 2008 vice presidential nomination into this new career. Or, really, not a new career. Before she was in politics, she worked briefly as a sports reporter for an Anchorage TV station. She's been in front of a camera for longer than she's been on a ballot. So we really shouldn't find it surprising that, lifted up onto the national platform, she's figured out a way to keep from falling off the edge.

Last November, Palin released a new book called Good Tidings and Great Joy. It was pitched as an attempt to remind American of the religious nature of the holiday season, an early entry into the war over religion that erupted with the suspension of Duck Dynasty's Phil Robertson the following month.

I was at the book launch in (fittingly enough) Bethlehem, Penn. The remarkable thing about the 700-plus people who waited in line to see the former governor was that they were much more compelled by her as a person than as a political figure. I quizzed a number of people about whether or not they were interested in voting for Palin in 2016; many had turned their eyes to new conservative leaders like Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.). But Palin still held a position of influence for them. As a woman. As a political first. As a moral leader. As an entertainer.

Palin is savvy enough to understand the boundaries of where she's wanted and where she isn't. She's an extremely skilled agitator; recall that her introduction to the world was her 2008 convention speech in which she completely savaged her opponents. Since, she's shown a mastery of using the fewest possible words to cause the most damage and inspire the most loyalty. And she's proven to be skilled at navigating a splintered media world, signing deals for pundit roles on Fox and for television shows on little-watched networks. She doesn't even need that 46 percent of the country in order to thrive. She can get by with far less.

Last year, a CNN poll found that 58 percent of Republicans saw Palin favorably. In January, the Democratic polling firm Public Policy Polling asked Republicans how they felt about various possible 2016 contenders. None was more popular than Sarah Palin. Unlike, say, Donald Trump, she has a base. And that base wants to see her. Conservatives want her to throw bombs. She wants to bring in a steady income.

So she will.