The speculation surrounding Sarah Palin’s September 3rd visit to Iowa has the national and local media whipped up into a tizzy. Media outlets both big and small are wondering if her Iowa speech will include an announcement that she is running for president. Some have already predicted that Palin is rewriting the rulebook for running for president, even though we don’t know yet whether she is an actual candidate.
The speculation is great for the Tea Party of America as it will ensure that scores of national media will be there to cover the group’s event. All of the coverage will help turn out a massive crowd of people in Indianola, just south of Des Moines, two Saturday’s from now.
The Palin speculation is also good for the news business as it once again provides ample fodder to write about. It’s not great for college football fans that are political junkies, but most opening day games are not the ones we circle on the calendar, like we do look our first tailgate of the season. Oddly enough, the only person who all the speculation may end up hurting is Palin herself. Let me explain.
As I’ve said a number of times, I’m done trying to speculate what Sarah Palin is up to. Either Palin is in the midst of executing a well thought out plan that leads to a presidential run, or she has no plan except that she is simply enjoying life and using her celebrity to make an impact on the political landscape.
I’m fine either way, but I don’t know if that will be the case for those individuals who are convinced that she is running for president.
In advance of her visit to Pella in June, I wrote an article detailing the depth of organization that has been created in Iowa on behalf of Palin. In many respects, the organizational work being done by Peter Singleton and his team of folks who are organizing for Palin is amazing. While many candidates have traveled the state wrangling for votes, Singleton has convinced a number of activists not to get involved with the campaigns that are presently active, and instead, to wait for Palin to enter the race.
Singleton’s grassroots efforts combined with Palin’s recent visits to Iowa have many people believing that she’s going pull the trigger on a presidential campaign. Even though Palin’s September 3rd visit to Iowa will be only her third stopover in the state this year, that puts her ahead of announced candidates like Mitt Romney, Jon Huntsman, and even Rick Perry in terms of visits to the state this year.
If Palin does announce that she’s running, or even just makes it obvious that she will be a candidate in 2012, her supporters will be ecstatic and more motivated than ever. If she doesn’t run, then all of the hype and speculation could lead to hard feelings amongst those who have stayed out of the race because they are convinced that she will run. The unfortunate thing for Palin is that it’s not necessarily her who is leading people on as much as it’s organizers like Singleton and the media who are still obsessed with everything Palin.
While I’m satisfied with just sitting back and watching the Palin drama unfold in time, I also have to admit that I’m not convinced that she will run. The media’s obsession with Palin leads one to believe that she would be an instant front-runner in the race. However, every national and Iowa poll that has been conducted proves otherwise.
The 2012 Republican race has already proven to be a flavor of the month type of campaign cycle as far as polls are concerned. Three different polls of likely Iowa caucus goers have resulted in three different leaders. Romney led in the Des Moines Register Poll in early June. Michele Bachmann led in TheIowaRepublican.com Poll later in June, and now Rick Perry leads the Public Policy Poll that was just released.
The problem for Palin is that she has never led in an Iowa or national poll. In fact, Palin has never even sniffed the lead despite receiving unmatched media attention. If Palin were to announce, she may very well see her poll numbers spike as was the case for Bachmann and Perry following their announcements, but both of them were relatively unknown, while Palin enjoys universal name ID.
Back in June, TheIowaRepublican.com poll showed Palin with just seven percent of the vote, tied with Herman Cain but well behind Romney and Bachmann in Iowa. The poll also contained other troubling numbers for a Palin presidential run. Palin had a 59 percent favorable, 39 percent unfavorable rating among Iowa Republicans. Only Newt Gingrich and Rudy Giuliani had higher unfavorable numbers.
Palin also performed poorly in the question that asked likely Republican caucus goers which candidate they would definitely not vote for. Newt Gingrich finished highest in that category with 28 percent saying they definitely not vote for him. Eighteen percent of likely Republican caucuses goers said they would definitely not vote for Palin.
If those numbers suggest anything, it’s that Palin has a lot of work to do before she becomes a contender in Iowa. Her visits to Pella and the Iowa State Fair have been positive appearances that have helped her endear herself to Iowans and potential caucus goers. Her visit next month will provide another opportunity for Palin to do the same, but if she continues to be coy about her presidential ambitions, she may frustrate the very people who are holding out hope that she runs.
Iowans take their role in the nomination process very seriously. Throughout the current contest, Iowans have shown patience with the ever-changing cast of characters who have entertained the idea of running for president. It is one thing to get distracted by Donald Trump in April when nobody had formally announced their candidacy and no debates had taken place. It’s another thing when these distractions take place four or five months before Iowans will attend their local caucus.
After next month’s three debates, we will have witnessed seven such contests. It is time to allow voters in Iowa and the other early states the opportunity to size up the candidates against each one another. Iowa cannot do its job in winnowing the field if the field of candidates is always in flux. If Sarah Palin, or any other candidate for that matter, wants to step up and offer their services to the country, now is the time. America is desperate for leadership, and leaders usually rise to the occasion, not play hard to get.
I personally like Sarah Palin. There is something special about her that I can’t quite put my finger on, but I realize it is truly unique. I respect every candidate who is willing to endure what running for president entails, but while I respect them, in turn they must respect the process as well as the voters. The process of selecting the Republican nominee is well underway. Labor Day is probably the final boarding call. Either step up and offer your services, or kindly step aside and let the people of Iowa begin to separate the wheat from the chaff.
It’s time for Palin to step up or step aside.
Photo by Dave Davidson, Prezography.com
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