Research 2000 is predicting that Sarah Palin will be the Republican Party’s standard-bearer in 2012.
In fact, Palin’s support among cultural conservatives is “etched firmly in stone” two years before the first primary.
After you’ve finished laughing at that absurd claim, take a look at Research 2000’s analysis and see if you spot any flaws.
Here are the problems I see:
Research 2000 predicts that 90 percent of cultural conservatives will back Sarah Palin. Research 2000 is a polling company, but there’s no polling to back up this 90 percent claim. And there won’t be. Cultural conservatives in general and Christian conservatives in particular are not monolithic. It’s hard to imagine Palin or any other Republican capturing 90 percent of their vote in a contested Republican primary.
Research 2000 says that frontrunners in the GOP “historically win the nomination.” That would point to a 2012 victory for Sarah Palin — if Sarah Palin were the clear frontrunner. But there is no clear frontrunner in 2009 for the 2012 nomination. Some polls show Mike Huckabee ahead. All of them show Mitt Romney performing well. Nobody has cleared 30 percent in the polls. This is a wide-open race.
Research 2000 also misses the reason why frontrunners have done so well in Republican primaries. In part, the GOP likes to give its nominations to time-tested politicians who have paid their dues, who have worked their way up the ladder, etc. Reagan served two terms as governor of California (and ran twice, unsuccessfully, for president before getting the nod). Bush Sr. had been a congressman, RNC chairman, ambassador to China, vice president and unsuccessful presidential candidate. Dole had been a senator for decades. Bush Jr., the candidate with the shortest resume on this list, had been a governor for two terms. McCain had been a senator for two decades and an unsuccessful presidential candidate in 2000.
Palin served less than a term as governor — and then quit. But there are ways, other than holding office, for a Republican to pay her dues. She could stump nonstop for Republican candidates in 2010 and work tirelessly to raise funds for fellow Republicans. This sort of teamwork would no doubt strengthen her chances in 2009 — unless she made some horrific verbal gaffes along the way.
As John McCain’s former running mate, Sarah Palin would enter the race as a first-tier candidate. But that doesn’t guarantee that she’ll stay there. She could be another Bob Dole, rising to fight another day. Or she could be another Dan Quayle.