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Wednesday, October 29, 2008
By Steven L. Taylor

Via the NYT: Win or Lose, Many See Palin as Future of Party

Whether the Republican presidential ticket wins or loses on Tuesday, a group of prominent conservatives are planning to meet the next day to discuss the way forward, and whatever the outcome, Gov. Sarah Palin will be high on the agenda.

This is hardly surprising, and indeed, it seems that the signals from Palin and her allies within the McCain campaign are such that they know that they are likely to lose and so the planning for next time has begun.

While it seems likely, at least at the moment, that she will be in the GOP mix in 2012, I have a very hard time seeing her winning the nomination. If anything, all of her weaknesses will be totally exposed when she moves from running mate to prime candidate. There is no hiding from the press if one is on center stage. Further, one has to have an answer for a panoply of questions if one is in that position. I have to wonder, in fact, if once the dust settles on the current campaign if the bigwigs in the GOP, upon due consideration, decide that Palin is worth backing. That does remain to be seen, of course.

While it is true that the 2012 process basically starts on November 5th for the party that loses the election, an awful lot will happen between now and then to determine what kind of candidate will have a shot at running a serious bid for the nomination, let alone who will have a real shot at winning. Not only is it likely that Romney and Huckabee will launch a second bid, there are other out there who are not immediately obvious candidates. Palin herself is the embodiment of the fact that one never knows for sure who will be prominent in presidential politics four years down the road.

A lot of this, too, had to do with what direction the Republican Party will go. Many will take the lesson of 2008 (assuming defeat) that McCain wasn’t authentic enough as a conservative, and there will be an emphasis on appealing to the base, meaning (it would seem by the current definition of “the base”): social conservatives/evangelicals and especially southern voters-the voters Palin very much appeals to. However, the problem with that approach is, of course, that they have those voters now, and that cadre of voters does not appear sufficient for victory. Others in the party will say that McCain’s failing was insufficient appeal beyond the base, which will end up to be numerically true on Tuesday, one suspects, but it seems likely that the former voices will prevail in that debate.

Of course, the exact shape of the debate will not be known until we know how an Obama presidency goes, and what issues develop in the world over the next four years (again, assuming that McCain doesn’t win).

If Palin were to emerge as the nominee in 2012, she will be bucking history, as failed VP nominees do not have a good success rate in such maneuvers. To wit, consider the following list:

Losing VP Nominees, 1952-2004
2004: Edwards
2000: Lieberman
1996: Kemp
1992: Quayle
1988: Bentsen
1984: Ferraro
1980: Mondale
1976: Dole
1972: Shriver
1968: Muskie
1964: Miller
1960: Lodge
1956: Kefauver
1952: Sparkman

Not only did all but one of these individuals not come back in four years to win their party’s nomination, my guess is that most of us haven’t heard of a good number of them.

In that list, the only example of the losing VP nominee coming back and winning his party’s was Walter Mondale in 1984, and he had actually been the Vice President from 1976-1980. Dole went from VP nominee to presidential candidate as well, but it took him two decades to achieve the feat. In the last several cycles, we have seen Lieberman and Edwards both try to come from being a losing running mate to the party’s nominee, with obviously unsatisfactory (to them, anyway) results. It should be noted, of course, that not all of the failed veepables even tried for the top slot the next time out (of course, some likely didn’t try because they knew their likely fate).

At any rate, while I suspect that Palin isn’t fully going away after next week (again, assuming that the race is going the direction it appears to be going), but I wouldn’t be penciling her into the GOP top slot in 2012 just yet.

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7 Responses to “Palin in 2012?”

  1. Can we stop the “Palin in 2012″ discourse please, it is making me ill » A Couple Things » A couple things about politics, sports, travel, and other stuff. Says:

    [...] a shot at anything in 2012, much less Presidential nominee. But that is the discourse our there. Steven Taylor this morning cites the New York Times which notes that Republicans, win or lose, are getting [...]

  2. fritz Says:

    Had you gone back one more election, to find the 1948 VP loser, you would have found Earl Warren whose presidential ambitions were also frustrated though he did find subsequent employment elsewhere.

  3. Below The Beltway » Blog Archive » Is Palin The Future Of The GOP ? Don’t Bet On It Says:

    [...] importantly, though, Palin has history against her: If Palin were to emerge as the nominee in 2012, she will be bucking history, as failed VP nominees [...]

  4. Max Lybbert Says:

    It’s always fun to guess who’ll be politically active four years in the future. But it’s also nearly impossible. There was a time I would have expected Gingrich to run for President. And there was a time I would have expected Gore to run for Senator or to lobby for a judgeship.

  5. nevrdull Says:

    i think the bottom line is that it is probably a moot point to speculate about palin’s political future, today. four years is a long period of time, and there are lots of others (romney, for example) who want to have a say in this.

  6. JJ Says:

    I’d say Palin’s grasp of the world is about that of a smart 12 year old (the type who might one day become president). So she has about 4 years to gain 20 years experience.

  7. MichaelB Says:

    Also, being way ahead at this point doesn’t necessarily do much for you. We spent almost three years assuming that Hilary Clinton would run away with the Democratic nomination, but that didn’t help her in the end.

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