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July 10, 2013 1:34 PM Don’t Believe the Latest Palin Hype

By Ed Kilgore

There it sat on the news aggregator last night, a headline fairly glowing with the cheesy traffic-generating glamor of vain hopes and fears: “Sarah Palin considering 2014 Senate bid.” I ignored it for a while, without even finding out which Senate race St. Joan of the Tundra was said to be “considering” (where does she even live these days?). But I finally read the underlying piece by Politico’s James Hohmann, who only made it to the fifth graph before rebutting the lede:

It is very hard to envision Palin, who resigned in July 2009 before completing her first term as governor, ultimately getting in the race. She likes keeping herself in the news, and flirting with a high-profile Senate bid is sure to generate buzz. But she would need to give up a big stream of income for a race she would not be certain to win.
The Democratic firm Public Policy Polling reported in February that only 34 percent of Alaska voters view her favorably and 59 percent hold a negative opinion. A May survey from Republican firm Harper Polling found that 62 percent of Republicans view Palin favorably and 30 percent view her unfavorably.

Now I guess it’s inevitable that Palin’s name would come up in connection with a Senate race to take out Mark Begich that Republicans nationally regard as a must-win if they are to regain control of the upper chamber. After all, GOPers fear a toxic GOP primary pitting Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell against Tea Party champ Joe Miller (with Natural Resources Commissioner Dan Sullivan potentially jumping in and splitting the non-Tea Party vote). But it’s not clear Palin is popular enough to do anything other than divide her party even more, and as Hohmann observes, why would she want to run anyway? It’s not like she craves a real job.

But while Sarah Palin isn’t going to be taking any oaths of office soon, I don’t agree with those who say she’ll just go away if her detractors agree to ignore her. Let’s don’t forget she managed to fatally poison a big chunk of public opinion about the Affordable Care Act with a Facebook post. And her recent rage-filled attacks on Republican supporters of immigration reform helped consolidate movement-conservative opposition to the Senate bill. That’s actual power, albeit it of an evil, destructive manner. And she continues to embody and speak for the unfettered id of “the base” (viz. her upcoming “war on Christmas” book, articulating one of the dumber but still passionately felt causes on the grassroots Right).

So I’m afraid we’ll have Sarah Palin to kick around for some time—but just not in a Senate race.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.

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