Run Sarah, Run

It is getting late for Sarah Palin to enter the Republican nomination race, and not many Republicans even want her to run. Christian Heinze thinks Palin might run as an independent:

Last week, business mogul Donald Trump suggested to Fox News that Palin needed to step into the background and let the declared candidates have the spotlight. But Palin hasn’t shown any interest in sharing it, and one can easily imagine a scenario where she makes an aggressive push to insert herself into the conversation again.

Palin has held the GOP establishment in contempt since 2008. During the 2010 elections, she regularly railed against the “GOP machine” and “good old boys,” and both she and her supporters have accused the party of trying to muzzle Palin. In fact, Palin’s embrace of the Tea Party movement has regularly been coupled with attacks on the Republican Party, and she’s often keen to note that her spirit and principles are conservative, not Republican.

In short, Palin doesn’t claim loyalty to the GOP, and in fact loathes the party establishment. There’d be no greater blow she could strike to the GOP elite than to run as an independent and siphon off votes from the Republican nominee. Party bigwigs would either fawn over her, trying to coax her out of the race, or attack her mercilessly as they try to discredit her among conservative-minded voters. Either way, Palin would once again be the center of attention.

As former George W. Bush strategist and No Labels co-founder Mark McKinnon says: “I think Palin will continue to find creative ways to stay relevant to the conversation, and threatening a third-party bid could certainly be in her toolkit.”

But beyond that lies the sheer spectacle that a third-party bid from Palin would provide, and Palin seems to love spectacles. Every four years, the media work to find a way to insert a credible independent candidate into the general election. This dynamic raises the profile of a presidential race considerably, but not since Ross Perot’s first bid in 1992 have we seen anything close to what could happen in 2012.

Running as an independent would give Palin plenty of publicity and she could wait until sometime in 2012 to actually launch the campaign. She couldn’t win, but the former half-term governor does seem far more interested in the attention than actually serving out a term in office.

Of course I would love to see Palin run as an independent. Some potential independent candidates such as Mike Bloomberg could take votes from both parties, but Palin would clearly hurt the Republican candidate. Her votes will come from Republicans, not true independents. If Mitt Romney wins the nomination, which looks very likely at this point in time, there will be social conservatives who would prefer to vote for an independent who might have no chance of winning, but shares their views, as opposed to voting Republican. I think it is very likely that a social conservative will run if Romney gets the nomination, but such a candidate might only receive a minimal number of votes in red states which will still go Republican.  Palin, while down in support, still has enough supporters  to run as an independent and  take a significant number of votes from any Republican nominee.

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