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Thursday, November 13, 2008

5 Reasons Sarah Palin Would Lose a 2012 Presidential Bid

Before John McCain’s presidential bid had even ended, many were touting Sarah Palin as a possible GOP presidential candidate for 2012. And in an interview with Matt Lauer this morning, Palin said that, “if there is a door open in 2012 or four yeas later…then I’ll plow through that door.”

If Sarah Palin tries to run for president in 2012, she’ll get plowed over. In fact, she probably wouldn’t even make it out of the primary. Palin-watchers can take their pick from a plethora of reasons as to why.

Reason Number 1: Too Many Better Candidates

The dust hasn’t even settled from the 2008 contest, and Republicans are already salivating over who the next GOP presidential nominee will be. To be sure, Palin’s name is among those that are being floated as possible candidates, along with former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, former Speaker of the House of Representatives Newt Gingrich, Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, and South Dakota Senator John Thune. But does it really stand out?

Experience-wise, every single one of those candidates puts Palin to shame. Additionally, each of those candidate brings far more expertise to the table than Palin. And maybe that will change over the next four years. But in the meantime, Romney is seen by many as an expert on economic issues by virtue of his successful construction (and later resuscitation) of Bain Capital, and given current economic concerns, that could be a big arrow in his quiver. Newt Gingrich and Tim Pawlenty are probably the truest conservatives of the bunch, and in fact would probably be more solidly aligned with the conservative base than any GOP candidate since George H.W. Bush was the nominee as the incumbent president back in 1992. Candidates like Jindal and Thune are largely considered by many to be the future of the Republican Party. Palin would have a difficult time distinguishing herself from the breadth of possibility in that field.

Reason Number 2: The Primary Process Has A Heavy Debate Emphasis

The 2008 presidential election season was unprecedented in the visibility of candidates. En route to the nomination, John McCain participated in 17 debates in the primary race alone. Few will argue with the assertion that Sarah Palin is at her worst in (a) debates, and (b) one-on-one interviews. It was a constant worry of the McCain campaign, and a primary reason behind the fact that Palin only debated Democratic vice-presidential nominee (and now Vice President-elect) Joe Biden one time. On that occasion, expectations going into the forum were lowered to a point that essentially credited Palin with an incredible performance as long as she managed to avoid a catastrophic failure.

She wouldn’t have that benefit if she were on the stage with Romney (a prolific debater), Gingrich, Jindal, Thune, or Pawlenty, to say nothing of any other GOP candidates who might jump in the race.

Reason Number 3: The GOP Favors Candidates Who’ve Sought the Presidency Before

With the exception of George W. Bush, Republicans tend to favor candidates who’ve sought the nomination before. John McCain (’08), Bob Dole (‘96), George H.W. Bush (‘92, ‘88), Ronald Reagan (‘80, ‘84), Richard Nixon (‘72, ‘68), Barry Goldwater (‘64)- all of them sought the GOP nomination at least one time before eventually winning it (Gerald Ford is absent from the list, because he was the incumbent president and nominee in ‘76 without ever actually having been elected president in the first place). That kind of news bodes well for a candidate like Mitt Romney, who made a substantial impact in 2008, but fell short.

Reason Number 4: Barack Obama Already Defeated Sarah Palin

Palin participated in a Republican ticket that got handed its worst electoral beating since 1964. On the safe assumption that Barack Obama would seek a second term in 2012 2008, she’d be facing the same guy who demolished her ticket the first time around.

Moreover, Obama didn’t just beat McCain-Palin in swing states. He didn’t even just beat them in states that are only moderately Republican. He beat them in GOP strongholds like North Carolina and Virginia. Palin was brought in as McCain’s running mate not only to make an offensive run at women, but also to shore up conservative and rural support. She couldn’t do it. It’s hard to see how she’d have any better luck on her own four years from now.

Reason Number 5: Palin Has Enough Baggage

Between Troopergate, her use of campaign funds for a pricey shopping spree, her former membership in an Alaskan separatist group, and her history of handing out high-paying government patronage jobs to her girlfriends from high school and college, Palin had a lot weighing her down in the 2008 race before her qualifications were even addressed. Romney’s biggest problem was that he began as a much more liberal politician than he is now. But that pales in comparison to Palin’s ethically questionable behavior. Gingrich had an extramarital affair, but he admitted that years ago, so it’s not really a newsworthy issue anymore. And Jindal, Pawlenty, and Thune are clean…for now anyway. Palin will have a tough time getting voters to look past her problems, particularly when there are other more qualified candidates to choose from who don’t have that kind of baggage.


It’s not to say that Sarah Palin will never have a shot at the White House. In fact, if she were to run for reelection as Governor of Alaska in 2010, and Alaska’s Senate seat in 2014 (whether it’s Ted Stevens or Mark Begich or someone else in that seat), she might have a decent shot by 2016. But 2012 is a lost cause. And if Democrats know what’s good for them, they’ll hope Palin pulls the trigger on her own presidential bid sooner rather than later.

Read jwilkes’s Last Article: 9 Senate Republicans Could Face Defeat in 2010

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