Palin Pull-out: How's It Playing with Her Base?

| Mon Jul. 6, 2009 11:17 AM EDT

Bobby Eberle runs GOPUSA.com. It's not affiliated directly with the Republican Party, and it doesn't seem to play an important role in the conservative movement, though he claims it reaches more than 1 million rightwingers every week with a web-based newsletter it disseminates. Usually, Eberle's own commentary in that newsletter is predictable: bash Barack Obama the socialist, hail patriotic conservatives for trying to save the republic. But in Monday's edition—which featured an ad for SarahPAC, the political action commmittee founded by soon-to-be-ex-Governor Sarah Palin—Ebersole had an interesting piece, if only because his article showed that conventional wisdom has fully penetrated the right, at least on the issue of Palin's decision to resign

Eberle is a fan of Palin. He writes that "Palin energized the conservative base. Her down-home, folksy style was a breath of fresh air to the stale political rhetoric." But her recent move, he notes, isn't that energizing:

[T]hough some may analyze this move as "brilliant" in her race for the White House, the fact remains that she is quitting her job as governor. She was elected to a four-year term, and she is quitting... not being promoted to a higher office, but simply quitting. I find this to be very unprofessional. She could finish her term as governor and still have plenty of time to travel around the country campaigning for president. It's not like she is unknown to anyone any more..... For me, the quitter label is going to be hard to shake. What happens if she were president? Do you think she'd face "politics as usual?" If so, would she quit then too?

There's been a lot of punditing about Palin's pull-out in the previous days. (While our website was down due to a fire in Seattle, I contributed via my Twitter feed.) And the verdict of the politerati has been almost unanimous: dumb, dumb, dumb. That was predictable. But what's more intriguing is how Palin's resignation is playing with her base. After this stunt, will she be left with a large enough core of supporters—people who will be willing to donate dollars and knock on doors for a quitter—to kick-start a presidential campaign in 2012?

This  weekend, I noted that TeamSarah, a grassroots-minded group of conservatives who fancy Palin, were standing by her and essentially declaring her resignation a defiant act of leadership. The group issued a statement:

"Sarah Palin has always been an intensely independent woman — always true to her faith, her family and call to public service. She has taken vast numbers of Americans to a new place: politics without cynicism. And she has provided women with a new political role model," said Team Sarah Co-Founder Marjorie Dannenfelser. "Her entrance onto the public stage has had an immensely positive effect, drawing in massive numbers of Americans new to the political process. We have every confidence she will have an equal and profound impact in whatever projects she undertakes now."

Palin seemed to be speaking to these folks when she twittered on Sunday: "Critics are spinning, so hang in there as they feed false info on the right decision made as I enter last yr in office not to run again...." (She also twittered that she was "anxious" to join husband Todd, a commercial fisherman, in "slaying salmon" for one day.)

So hang in there. That's her message to her followers. But how many Palinites are there, and how many of them are not disappointed, discouraged, or disenchanted by her decision to cut and run? If die-hard GOP talking-pointer Eberle is spouting the majority view of the commentariat, then Palin might give serious thought to the career potential of full-time salmon slaying.

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