Jack Kelly: The Power of Palin

In an article in today’s Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Jack Kelly examines some of the reasons the conventional wisdom doesn’t apply to Governor Palin.  Excerpts follow:

According to the conventional wisdom, it may be too late for her to run. Ms.  Palin’s done no fundraising, hasn’t built a campaign team. Republicans who  supported her are drifting to active campaigns, chiefly that of Rep. Michele  Bachmann of Minnesota.

The conventional wisdom is more conventional than wise. Candidates start  early to build name recognition and need a campaign organization to get  supporters to the polls.

Sarah Palin has 3.2 million followers on Facebook — about 800,000 more than  all the declared GOP candidates combined. Palinistas tend to be the sort who  would crawl over ground glass to vote for her. She has less need of a  get-out-the-vote operation than any political figure in modern times.

The Republican National Committee’s new rules favor late entrants. There will  be more delegates in 2012 than ever before. A higher proportion will come from  heavily Republican states. All but a handful will be selected after March 1. In  the four February contests, 129 delegates are at stake — 23 fewer than in Texas  alone.

Delegates in the early states must be selected by proportional  representation, the RNC says. So whoever wins these contests probably will wind  up with fewer than half. After March 1, delegates may be selected on a  winner-take-all basis.

The early contests are unlikely to produce a clear frontrunner, but will  winnow the field. This is most important for debates. It’s stretching the term  when seven or eight candidates are on stage. Cut the field to three or four, and  debates have real meaning.


Many “mainstream” journalists have abandoned all pretense of fairness, but  still expect to be treated as if they were honest brokers. Most Republicans  oblige them.

Sarah Palin doesn’t. She uses social media to bypass news media  “gatekeepers.” That’s one reason so many journalists hate her. They seethe even  more because Ms. Palin uses their obsession with her to make them look  ridiculous, as she did during her bus vacation in the Northeast last month.


But her critics have shot their bolt where Sarah Palin is concerned. They’ve  already said every bad thing they could say about her.

“The Undefeated,” strives to set the record straight. The people in Pella who  saw it liked it very much. But most Americans won’t see it.

Which is why debates will be so important if Ms. Palin runs. In them, she’ll  either conform to the caricature of her — or demolish it.

My money’s on the latter.  Ask Frank Murkowski, Tony Knowles, and Joe Biden.  Read the rest of Kelly’s piece here.

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