SARAH THE INDEPENDENT? – AT 8:12 A.M. ET: The article in The Hill is speculative, but it's the kind of thinking that will probably set off a lot of discussion in the media. Can Sarah Palin, not terribly popular in her own party these days, run as an independent?
The question itself reminds us of 1992, when a Ross Perot candidacy probably cost George H.B. Bush reelection. Will Sarah do it? The party doesn't love her much, and the feeling is reciprocal:
The consequences for both her and the presidential race couldn’t be more profound, and there are a number of reasons why this could be a very real possibility.
The deadline for entering primaries in many states is rapidly approaching, and yet a rapid decision from Palin doesn’t seem to be on the horizon, despite past words to the contrary.
Palin has held the GOP establishment in contempt since 2008. During the 2010 elections, she regularly railed against the “GOP machine” and “good old boys,” and both she and her supporters have accused the party of trying to muzzle Palin. In fact, Palin’s embrace of the Tea Party movement has regularly been coupled with attacks on the Republican Party, and she’s often keen to note that her spirit and principles are conservative, not Republican.
In short, Palin doesn’t claim loyalty to the GOP, and in fact loathes the party establishment. There’d be no greater blow she could strike to the GOP elite than to run as an independent and siphon off votes from the Republican nominee. Party bigwigs would either fawn over her, trying to coax her out of the race, or attack her mercilessly as they try to discredit her among conservative-minded voters. Either way, Palin would once again be the center of attention.
That makes a great deal of sense...if Palin wants to permanently separate herself from the GOP. She would never be welcomed back if she cost the party the presidency.
Imagine that the independent candidate is Sarah Palin. The equation would be explosive — a political figure who’s provoked endless fascination with a phenomenon that’s rarely seen.
But would Palin actually draw that many votes?
Dartmouth Professor Brendan Nyhan, a best-selling media critic, said the prospect would raise overwhelming flash — if not overwhelming results at the ballot box.
“It would be a spectacle,” Nyhan said, “but I don’t think she’d be taken nearly as seriously by the press as a centrist third-party candidate like Perot would be. Perot actually briefly led in the polls, whereas she has negative ratings well over 50 percent and would be lucky to get double digits.”
COMMENT: That could be true, but 10% would make her a pretty effective spoiler. And, you never know, with Romney not generating much gut enthusiasm, many conservatives might choose a protest vote over a real vote.
My guess is that Sarah, despite her love of attention, will stay out of it, figuring that all she could do is spoil, and, as with Perot, it would end her political career. She's young, and might well have her sights on rebuilding her image and running in the future.
October 5, 2011