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Sunday, July 3, 2011

Palin Power

Bristol Palin told Fox News her mother has made up her mind about running for president, but Sarah Palin told The New York Times she's still thinking about it.

According to the conventional wisdom, it may be too late for her to run. Ms. Palin's done no fundraising, hasn't built a campaign team. Republicans who supported her are drifting to active campaigns, chiefly that of Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota.

The conventional wisdom is more conventional than wise. Candidates start early to build name recognition and need a campaign organization to get supporters to the polls.

Sarah Palin has 3.2 million followers on Facebook -- about 800,000 more than all the declared GOP candidates combined. Palinistas tend to be the sort who would crawl over ground glass to vote for her. She has less need of a get-out-the-vote operation than any political figure in modern times.

The Republican National Committee's new rules favor late entrants. There will be more delegates in 2012 than ever before. A higher proportion will come from heavily Republican states. All but a handful will be selected after March 1. In the four February contests, 129 delegates are at stake -- 23 fewer than in Texas alone.

Delegates in the early states must be selected by proportional representation, the RNC says. So whoever wins these contests probably will wind up with fewer than half. After March 1, delegates may be selected on a winner-take-all basis.

The early contests are unlikely to produce a clear frontrunner, but will winnow the field. This is most important for debates. It's stretching the term when seven or eight candidates are on stage. Cut the field to three or four, and debates have real meaning.

Debates will matter more in 2012 than ever before -- especially for Sarah Palin. Thanks to nonstop denigration from the news media and Hollywood celebrities, she polls worse against President Barack Obama than any other GOP candidate. A CBS poll June 8 indicated 54 percent of Republicans don't want her to run.

A new documentary, "The Undefeated," opens with a montage of vicious things celebrities have said about Ms. Palin. Viewers at the premier in Pella, Iowa, Tuesday were shocked.

But efforts to portray Ms. Palin as a shrill, stupid snowbilly backfired on the journalists who sought the release of 24,000 emails from her time as Alaska governor. The emails "brought back the memory of a long-lost Palin: the popular, charismatic competent woman of the people," who "comes across as practical and not doctrinaire," and who is "far from being a knee-jerk partisan," wrote Molly Ball in Politico.

Liberals hope their sliming of her will keep Ms. Palin from running. But it may be the most important reason why she should. (Continues here)

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