Some big Sarah Palin picks - think Christine O'Donnell and
Sharron Angle - lost key races in the midterm elections. But Palin
made a lot of new friends in presidential primary states like New
Hampshire and South Carolina.
A day after Election 2010 one thing is clear: Sarah Palin, the
moose-hunting former GOP vice-presidential candidate, just raised
the stakes for a tea party-flavored 2012 presidential run that,
let's face it, could start in a matter of months.
To begin with, Ms. Palin's endorsement win-loss record was 27-15
(with eight races still undecided), coming amid a historic
Republican midterm sweep of a kind the party hadn't enjoyed since
Palin, who has become the "mama grizzly" embodiment of the
antitax tea party and disaffected independents across the United
States, accomplished two key goals with her contribution: She proved
that, more than a year out of office, she is perceived as a
Reaganesque player in national politics while at the same time
laying a groundwork of new friends in suddenly high places.
Tea Party Top 10 biggest winners and losers
But the former Alaska governor also played a role in thwarting a
GOP Senate takeover, pretty much hoisting Christine O'Donnell and
Sharron Angle past more mainstream Republican primary contenders who
may have won on Nov. 2 - possibly giving the GOP a majority.
Consequently, Palin's hit-and-miss effect on Election Day has
reinvigorated a debate within the GOP about whether a Palin
presidential candidacy would work against President Obama, who is
all but certain to run, in 2012.
"In terms of Sarah Palin's influence, the picture is mixed," says
Costas Panagopoulos, a political scientist at Fordham University in
New York and editor of Campaigns and Elections magazine. "While
Palin's influence in the  general election was actually rather
mild, the success that she's had in this election cycle in remaining
a player in national politics and having the capacity to mobilize
voters across this country still makes her a force to be reckoned
Magnifying Palin's misfires, two high-profile candidates whom the
news media tracked extensively - Ms. O'Donnell and Ms. Angle - lost
in the election, in O'Donnell's case by double digits. Dustups like
O'Donnell's "I am not a witch" ad and Angle's awkward
characterizations of ethnic teens fed into perceptions that a Sarah
Palin-inspired tea party is, at its core, fringe and ultimately
unlikely to find its way to the White House.
Meanwhile, the race that may reveal the most about Palin's
influence remains undecided. …