This story by Dan Balz of the Washington Post contains quotes from two Republican strategists, for lack of a better description, that make a good deal of sense to me (I don’t know where either stands in the great Palin divide). The first comes from pollster Neil Newhouse. He says: “It’s unquestionable that [Palin] has a future in the GOP, but it’s a bit more in doubt whether she has a future with the general electorate.” Newhouse adds that Palin “has a considerable rehabilitation job ahead of her to win the support of non-GOPers.”
Newhouse may be understating the problem. In the latest poll, only 40 percent of the public have a favorable view of Palin, while 53 percent have an unfavorable view. Moreover, the course she has set for herself will make it difficult to improve her standing outside of the base.
Having bailed on her job, she won’t be able to point to any new governing accomplishments. Instead, presumably, she will be delivering fiery speeches on behalf of Republican candidates and perhaps writing a hard-hitting book (it’s difficult to imagine writing any other kind). Serving up red meat to the party faithful will help cement her status with conservatives and may well help raise substantial sums of money for Republican candidates. But it’s unlikely to “rehabilitate” her with “non-GOPers.” Instead, it may tend to reinforce her negative image with this vast cohort.
The other comment comes from Fred Malek, a long-time Republican fundraiser. He advises Palin to focus on big themes and not to sweat the small stuff:
She should not try to fan the flames every time some kernel of negativity erupts. Let Levi Johnson have his 15 mintues of fame. Don’t answer these blogs. Don’t answer these tweets. Look at the bigger picture.
That’s great advice, I think, and it echoes what a well-connected Alaskan Republican told me earlier this year as he watched the then-governor become increasingly distracted by her critics. Palin can already be cast as a quitter; she should not cast herself as a whiner.