Has Sarah Palin exhausted the patience of her supporters?

There is some evidence that while waiting for a potential Sarah Palin presidential run, her potential voters have moved on and now support other tea party-backed candidates, such as Rick Perry or Michele Bachmann.

Charles Dharapak/AP
Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin signs a hat for a fan after she was interviewed by Sean Hannity of FOX News at the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines, Iowa, on Aug. 12.

Has Sarah Palin waited too long to announce she’s running for president?

That’s if she intends to run for president, we mean. If she doesn’t, this line of chatter is moot. But there is some evidence that her potential voters have already moved on and now support other tea party-backed candidates, such as Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) or Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann (R). So if she does throw her snow machine helmet into the ring, she might start a White House race closer to the back of the pack than the front.

First, let’s address the waiting part. The former Alaska governor on Tuesday denied that she intends to announce a White House bid on September 3, when she’s scheduled to address a big Tea Party meeting in Iowa.

“Any professional pundit claiming to have ‘inside information’ regarding Governor Palin’s personal decision is not only wrong but their comments are specifically intended to mislead the American public,” read a message posted on the website of her PAC.

The "professional pundit" referred to is Karl Rove, apparently. He’s the person who got that particular ball of punditry rolling downhill. In a Fox News appearance last weekend he predicted Palin would launch a race in her September 3 speech, saying her schedule “looks like that of a candidate, not a celebrity.”

Rove never claimed inside information. He and Palin don’t get along – he’s said her participation in reality shows demonstrates a lack of “gravitas” – so he might just have been trying to provoke her into an angry response. In which case, Mission Accomplished!

Palin might use the September 3 address to endorse another candidate. She might use it to make it clear she will announce at some point – Governor Perry used that same sort of slow-unveiling strategy as he edged into the race.

But the problem is at this point she may be exhausting the patience of potential Palinites.

“I think we are coming to the end of the line for Sarah Palin’s ability to string the Republican primary voters along,” writes Erick Erickson, editor of the “RedState” conservative blog, in a Wednesday post.

Here’s Erickson’s reasoning: A Palin entry into the race would not shake up the standings too much at this point. He points to a new Public Policy Polling survey which shows her support sinking in Iowa. If she declares she’s in, she’d start with only about ten percent of the Iowa vote – putting her behind Perry, Mitt Romney, Bachmann, and Ron Paul.

Nationwide, Palin has the highest name recognition of any GOP candidate, real or potential, points out Erickson. But she has only about 12 percent ballot support, according to a Gallup rating.

“I think Palin could get back a number of voters should she get into the race – people who gave up on her running and moved on to someone else. But, I do not think it would put her in a strong enough position to get into first or second place,” writes Erickson.

Some other analysts are less negative. In an opinion piece for CNN, political scientist Paul Sracic of Youngstown State University in Ohio writes that Palin’s on-camera optimism about America seems natural and akin to that of GOP icon Ronald Reagan.

“This offers at least the possibility that, despite her current low standing in the polls, she will be able to leap-frog over the more negative sounding Bachmann and Perry, and compete head-to-head with Romney,” writes Sracic.

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