Could A Palin Presidential Bid Rewrite The Campaign Rulebook?
Karl Rove, the former strategist for George W. Bush, said Sunday he thinks the odds favor a Palin run.
Woolson pointed to Palin's "One Nation" tour stop in Iowa, where, despite neither being on the straw poll ballot nor participating in the Republican debate, the former governor soaked up more than her due of attention, holding court with reporters for hours and diverting attention from her fellow Republicans.
"She proved that she could do it with Romney, she proved that she could do it with the entire Republican field last weekend," Woolson says, referring to the previous leg Palin's bus tour, which coincided with Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney's campaign announcement in New Hamphire. "That ability to capture a moment - she is masterful at those sorts of things."
Of course, how far one's ability to "capture a moment" can take a candidate in a presidential campaign is unknown. Palin would undoubtedly be paving new ground in the realm of fundraising - and she would have to all but forgo the support of the Republican establishment.
"Republicans understand that Palin would be a very controversial nominee," Sabato says. "They are focused on defeating President Obama, and most probably don't want to take a chance on throwing that opportunity away."
Many strategists, however, believe that if Palin did run, bucking the establishment would be one of the organizing themes of her campaign. The expectation is that she would use her grassroots organizing prowess to develop her own channels and form a whole new sort of army on the ground. Maintaining conventional GOP contacts, therefore, may not be on the forefront of her mind in the decision-making process.
No one, however, is willing to bet on whether or not those channels might be sufficient to win the Republican nomination, particularly when the field is so crowded to begin with. Candidates like Texas Governor Rick Perry and Michele Bachmann, both of whom are powerful fundraisers with strong Tea Party credentials, are potentially already tapping into Palin-friendly voters.
"Every time I think I have things figured out, I really don't," says Woolson. "[Palin] may have absolutely the right approach - we may not know that for months. You never know if a non-traditional approach is going to succeed or fail until it actually does."
"You never rule out somebody like Palin in a fractured field," Sabato adds. "She has a devoted following. And there's nothing in the rulebook that says an unconventional campaign can't work in a year like this one."
Ultimately, Woolson says, the success or failure of a Palin candidacy would boil down to the question that's on everyone's lips: "Is she crazy like a fox, or just crazy?"
Woolson adds: "I mean that in a campaign sense, at least."