Former Governor of Alaska Sarah Palin (2nd R) takes pictures with partygoers as she arrives at the embassy of Italy for an MSNBC after-party following the annual White House Correspondents’ Association dinner in Washington May 1, 2011
As her poll numbers sink, Republican Party insiders assume she’s unlikely to mount a presidential campaign, the possibility of which used to stoke endless interest in her every Facebook pronouncement. “Her real constituency is the media,” says former John McCain adviser Mike Murphy, who views Palin as a “niche candidate” incapable of winning the nomination. “The media have always overestimated her appeal. They’re drunk with interest in covering her. It’s a partnership—they’re in business together.”
But the partnership, often fed by her fiery tweets (see chart), is suffering. Between February and April, according to an analysis for NEWSWEEK by General Sentiment, a company that tracks and measures online content, posts involving Palin fell 38.3 percent, to 235,032, over the past 30 days. Social-media mentions dropped in lockstep, down 32 percent over the same period, to 135,421. And the value of all that “free” media dropped roughly by half during this period, from $63 million to $33 million. While it would be foolish to count her out, it is hard to escape the conclusion that her influence has peaked. People close to Palin acknowledge that she has done virtually nothing to lay the groundwork for a campaign. But they don’t see her as toning things down, saying she is busy giving speeches (for as much as $100,000 a pop) and tending to her five kids and her grandchild.
Pundits will look back and try to explain her 2012 demise but it is really very simple. Palin never grew as a politician, but grew as a media personality.
And, this is where she will stay unless she either runs and wins a U.S. Senate seat in Alaska or Arizona, where she is rumored to be moving. My best guess is that she will host a talk radio show after her Fox News gig runs its course.