Why Sarah Palin really might run for office again

Sarah Palin says all the criticism from 'those haters out there ... invigorates me.' A majority of Americans say they've heard enough from her, but she has a base of committed supporters, and even some Democrats say they want her to run.

Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP/File
In this Sept. 26 photo, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R) speaks in Washington. Ms. Palin, the 2008 Republican vice-presidential nominee, said in an interview with Fox Business on Tuesday that she is invigorated by her critics, who make her 'want to work so hard for justice in this country.'

Will Sarah Palin really run for office again? On Tuesday she said she might. In an interview with the Fox Business network, the ex-VP candidate said that her critics haven’t driven her away from politics. In fact, they energize her, she said.

“Bless their hearts, those haters out there, they don’t understand that it invigorates me.... The more they’re pouring on, the more I’m going to bug ... them by being out there with a voice, with a message, hopefully running for office in the future, too,” Ms. Palin said.

Look, we know that a Palin candidacy for any position is out of the question at the moment. She seems focused on “politainment," the business of combining political positions with entertainment production values. She’s putting more energy into her online TV channel than positioning for the 2016 presidential election.

Her national poll numbers aren’t great. They’re terrible, in fact. For instance, in July an NBC News/Wall Street Journal survey found that 54 percent of US voters say they’ve heard enough from Palin and want her to be less outspoken on political debates.

Alaskans aren’t begging her to run for statewide office, either. In an August survey by Public Policy Polling, 55 percent of Alaska residents said they had an unfavorable view of their ex-governor, with 35 percent favorable. That’s almost 20 points underwater, a margin very difficult for any candidate to overcome.

But we continue to think she means what she says and might run for office again. Why? While a majority of Americans may not be for her, she’s got a base of committed supporters. Anyone who’s ever been to a Palin event can see that. The flip side of the NBC/WSJ poll is that at least 46 percent of Americans either want to hear more from Palin or don’t care either way. And in that survey, she had the support of a majority of her own party, with 60 percent of Republicans saying they’d listen to her again.

Palin’s pretty good at selling her message. She may decide at some point that her continued viability as a political figure depends on, you know, actual politics. If Democrats win the White House in 2016, maybe she’ll launch an insurgent campaign for 2020. That sort of approach has worked well for Mike Huckabee, after all.

Or she could move to another state and launch a Senate campaign, like Scott Brown. This could be even better for the Palin brand if it’s a liberal state where she could get lots of press coverage before an inevitable loss. California?

One final obvious point: Palin’s haters would love for her to run again. She wouldn’t bug them at all by declaring another candidacy. She’s a polarizing figure, and her opponents love to dislike her almost as much as her supporters like to love her.

In the August PPP poll, almost as many Democrats (17 percent) as Republicans (22 percent) wanted Palin to run for president. This suggests “there are as many Alaskans who want to see her run for the entertainment value as because they actually want her to be President,” says a press release from PPP, itself a generally left-leaning outfit.

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