It's national campaign stat-porn season again! Number muncher Nate Silver posted some of his magic maps this morning. These maps explain how Sarah Palin could be the 2012 Republican nominee for President!
That reddish line from the northwest through the deep South presents Palin's best shot at the nomination, according to Silver. Basically she has to win either Iowa or South Carolina (or both!) in order to have a shot. But she does well with rural, non-college educated voters who care about terror and God. And that's an important part of the GOP base!
But the most important part of the GOP base is rich people who don't want to pay taxes. And they will ensure that the nominee is Mitt Romney. He has the organization and the money and, most importantly, he came in second in 2008. That's how the Republican nomination process works.
Huckabee has an outside chance, but for some reason he is intensely hated by many of the GOP money people. Pawlenty is increasingly hated in his home state of Minnesota, but he might end up the least offensive "normal guy" backup choice.
Meanwhile, Sarah Palin's organization is a joke.
Pam Pryor, a former RNC senior adviser, leads Palin's political action committee and is orchestrating her outreach to social conservatives. Randy Scheunenmann remains her policy maestro, with informal assistance from his Orion Strategies colleague Michael Goldfarb, the former Weekly Standard writer and McCain campaign rapid responder. (Goldfarb did not return an e-mail seeking comment about his future in Palin's world.) Fred Malek is perhaps the single Washington establishment figure that Palin turns to.
Michael Goldfarb is a liability. Pam Pryor is an experienced evangelical adviser to Republicans but she hasn't ever worked for a major candidate. Scheunenmann—one of Ahmad Chalabi's men in Washington and lobbyist for the Republic of Georgia—was nearly fired from the McCain campaign (along with Goldfarb) for undermining and backstabbing. Fred Malek once counted Jews in the Department of Labor for Richard Nixon.
As Dave Weigel pointed out, Huckbaee, Pawlenty, and Romney have bigger and better teams in place.
Palin's PAC can raise substantial amounts of money without much trouble, thanks to her high profile and intense fanbase, but they're already famous for spending more money on her book than they did on candidates and their most recent fundraising letter has already been mocked for a grammatical error.
And, obviously, Palin could surround herself with trained and experienced professionals, but she hates trained and experienced professionals, and the moral of her own stupid book is that she chafes at attempts to make her act like a grown-up. She could very well end up with the Republican nomination, but that would take a series of fluke victories and lucky breaks, and those have not traditionally been deciding factors in the GOP nomination process.
But she is definitely kooky enough to give it a go, for which we should all be thankful. Because it will be hilarious.