Sarah Palin’s right. It would be absurd for her not to consider a White House bid in 2012, especially while Tea Partiers are chanting, “Run, Sarah, run!”
But first come this November’s elections, which could help build Palin’s credibility if her high-profile public appearances (and repeated attacks on President Barack Obama) actually help conservative candidates get elected to Congress and important state offices around the country. If.
Some political experts say Palin’s weekend keynote speech at the big Tea party in Nashville was her best since the 2008 GOP convention — detailed, focused and high on energy. Lucrative, too, given the $100,000 speaker’s fee, though the on-stage interview seemed a bit scripted, especially the part about what she’d do if she were president.
The appearance also kicked off a busy travel schedule to help candidates in this year’s campaign.
On Super Bowl Sunday, she was in Texas helping Republican Gov. Rick Perry with his March gubernatorial primary contest against Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison. Polling results show Hutchison trailing the incumbent by 15 percentage points and losing ground to a third candidate, Tea Party activist Debra Medina.
Palin spent much of her time in the Lone Star State assailing Washington, and by implication, Hutchison. She raised a huge cheer by pointing out in non-establishment fashion that Texans might like to secede.
But moving the national political applause needle to the right in 2010 could be much more difficult than rallying friendly audiences or using a talking hand to bash that “charismatic guy with a TelePrompTer.”
A state-by-state analysis of Obama’s job approval ratings by Gallup may offer a glimpse of the voter sentiment challenge that Palin and her conservative allies face this year.
The data show the president’s average approval for 2009 above 50 percent in 40 states including Gov. Perry’s Texas and the Tea Party conventioneers’ Tennessee. In fact, his ratings were substantially above 50 percent in more than 30 states including many in the Southeast, the Midwest and the Southwest, regions where Palin might hope to do well on behalf of conservative Republicans.
Whether Obama’s numbers can translate into good news for Democrats in November is an open question. And the doubts are palpable. In Massachusetts, where his 2009 approval rating was 66.8 percent, Tea Partiers helped Republican Scott Brown capture Teddy Kennedy’s Senate seat.