Yesterday, when writing about the fallout from Mike Huckabee’s decision not to run for president, I picked Michelle Bachmann as the candidate who might benefit the most from this turn of events. But I also noted that this was predicated on Sarah Palin’s not running. The deathly quiet from her camp about a 2012 campaign is encouraging presidential hopefuls and pundits alike to think that she is staying out of the race. But it is also frustrating her fans.
A visit to Conservatives4palin, one of her leading fan websites, shows that the former Alaska governor’s followers are still hoping that she will swoop down from the north and once again become the star of the conservative movement. To that end they have been busy writing letters-to-the-editor of every publication that disses their lady and even creating graphic logos where she is depicted as a latter-day Joan of Arc.
More seriously, the Des Moines Register reports that some Palin fans in Iowa have created a group that will try and build a grass roots campaign for her in that caucus state. But in the absence of a declared candidate and in the face of the formidable machines being built for the Republicans who actually are in the race, it looks like a forlorn cause. That should be especially daunting for her supporters when you consider that Palin hasn’t stepped foot in the state since last December during her book tour.
Unlike most other writers, New York Times political blogger Nate Silver considered Palin when he broke down the post-Huckabee situation. He rightly noted that Iowa ought to be fertile ground for a populist social conservative like Palin. Moreover, Huckabee’s exit and the collapse of the Donald Trump boomlet theoretically should help Palin, since she would be competing for some of the same voters as those two outliers. But, as Silver wrote, expectations for Palin are now very low. Although her stock is higher today than it has been for some time, Silver believes the clock is rapidly running out of time for her to gather her forces and make an attempt at the nomination. That might be an exaggeration; it is feasible for a well-known candidate with ready access to campaign funds to announce late in the game and still be competitive.
But the immediate problem for the Palinites is neither organizational nor financial. It is the fact that, as John wrote last week, her political career imploded and she appears to have gone to ground and abandoned the field to others, such as Michelle Bachmann, who is well placed to garner the affection of her core constituency. Sarah Palin’s moment looks to have come and gone.