A letter sent out by SarahPAC yesterday said, “As you may know, Gov. Palin is on the verge of making her decision of whether or not to run for office.” She has said that she would make her decision about 2012 before October and in an interview with Sean Hannity said that there is still time to get in.
“There is still time, Sean, and I think on both sides of the aisle I think you’re going to see people coming and going from this race. And I’m still one of those still considering the time factor,” Palin said, but she did admit that she would have to decide by November in order to actually get on the ballot. She said that this going to be a different type of race, “But I do think Sean, this is going to be such an unconventional election cycle. … Mark my word, it is going to be an unconventional type of election process.”
She may be right in that it would seem that Congresswoman Michele Bachmann’s support is waning opening up an opportunity for her to get in. Also in a McClatchy-Marist poll she has gained much ground in a hypothetical match-up against President Obama trailing only five points and actually leading among independents 47%-43%. Poll Insider points out that she’s likely doing better than the poll indicates (they say 47% to 47%) since Marist tends to oversample Democrats and that this new poll isn’t a fluke.
I think it is entirely possible for her to still jump into this race. She would have the advantage of staying out of the bludgeoning that is currently going on among the candidates. She also will have had time to hone her message before launching her campaign.
It is unconventional, Republican Web 2.0 guru, Patrick Ruffini, says this may be the year for a candidate like Palin to jump in late. Unlike other candidates she doesn’t have to take the time to build name ID, it’s already there. He writes:
So, what happened to the idea that running for President required enormous lead time to build the kind of name recognition necessary to dominate the evening news?
For one thing, the Internet and the 24/7 news cycle. It is now far easier for a lesser known candidate to find an audience and from there, suck out all the (media) oxygen in a room
Part of what differentiated Palin from the other potential vice presidential nominees in 2008 was the small but cult-like following she had generated on a network of blogs and conservative pundits (which I profiled in 2007). In a weekend, she went from being known by possibly less than 10,000 people outside her home state to political superstardom. No one needed to explain the Palin phenomenon to Republican base voters. They instantly got it.
Likewise, Perry was not terribly well known among Republican voters prior to 2010. His canny and aggressive campaign style, and his early pivot to Tea Party conservatism, most certainly earned him extra points among Fox News watchers. His come-from-behind primary defeat of establishment GOP Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison became a metaphor for the early rise of the Tea Party movement in 2010.
By all accounts, Perry was not even thinking of running for President until the spring. His closest political confidantes had all departed for the Newt Gingrich campaign. Once Gingrich imploded, and Perry got his band back together, it become (sic) surprisingly easy to build a frontrunning (sic) Republican primary campaign.
The old formula also called for camping out in Iowa and New Hampshire, almost exclusively. While this is not entirely an ill-advised approach, early state dominance is now undermined by the nationalization of the primary process through cable and Twitter.
I don’t totally agree with Ruffini, I don’t think Iowa and New Hampshire are irrelevant, but I do believe that old formula will change. Palin, I don’t believe can wait until November to launch, but talk that she had to be by Labor Day I believe is misguided. 2008 for instance was an anomaly, it was an insanely long campaign cycle. I don’t think we can look at 2008 as a model for 2012 for instance. She will need to put a team together soon, she will need to visit early caucus and primary states, and she will need to retail politick. It does take time and effort to build grassroots support.
But she won’t start from scratch since the primary thing she has going for her is that she is known. If she gets in will this strategy work? To be seen, but if anyone has the ability to rewrite the rule book, it’s Sarah Palin.
Update: Linked by Jennifer Jacobs at The Des Moines Register, thank you Jennifer and she was kind enough to let me know about a broken link which has now been fixed. I wanted to clarify, she does have a shrinking window of opportunity to jump in. The longer she does wait the more she risks that some of her base of supporters will become impatient and move on.