Will Sarah Palin be the October surprise?

One national poll shows Sarah Palin surging ahead of Rick Perry in a head to head matchup against Barack Obama. Will Sarah Palin announce her candidacy in time for the Florida primary deadline?

Stephan Savoia/aP
Former vice presidential candidate and Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin addresses a Tea Partly Express Rally in Manchester, N.H., in early September.

It’s been a good few weeks for Sarah Palin.

First, Joe McGinniss’s tell-all book about her was slammed by the mainstream media (those coming to Palin’s defense included the New York Times and even liberal antagonist Keith Olbermann).

Now, a new national poll shows her trailing President Obama in a head-to-head matchup by just 5 points, 44 to 49 - this, after she had trailed him by more than 20 points for most of the year. That’s better than current GOP frontrunner Rick Perry, who trails the president 41 to 50 in the same poll.

According to the survey, Palin’s recent jump in support has come mostly from independents, who have lately been abandoning the president in droves. Still, she remains a controversial figure: 72 percent of Republicans and independents in the same survey also said they don’t actually think Palin should run.

And that remains the question: will she or won’t she? Palin recently told Fox News that she thinks there’s “still time” for candidates to get into the race, and that she’s “still considering” it. She repeatedly said she believed it would be an “unconventional” election year.

Palin did acknowledge that there are deadlines looming to get on the ballot in certain primary and caucus states. (Florida, for example, has a deadline of Oct. 31.)

Still, a late entry isn’t necessarily insurmountable, particularly for candidates with high name recognition and easy access to cash. In 1995, self-funded candidate Steve Forbes waited until October to announce, and quickly became the strongest challenger to ultimate GOP nominee Bob Dole. Forbes made up for his lack of on-the-ground campaigning by blanketing the airwaves in early primary and caucus states with ads.

Palin may string everyone along for a while yet.

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