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You can forget about Sarah Palin as a Republican candidate, if you want to look silly by fall

Sarah Palin in New Hampshire 6-2-11

Obviously, Sarah Palin can't possibly run for president in 2012.

She's waited too long. Her ballyhooed 'One Nation' bus tour has virtually vanished. Have you noticed any lines to see the movie about her, "The Undefeated"? And that admiring film got panned by some people you never heard of.

Palin's not built any discernible grassroots organizations in early voting places like Iowa and New Hampshire, as traditional candidates do. And it looks like she's not going to pour a couple of million dollars into the meaningless Ames Straw Poll that will be so important for a week or so next month.

Quitting her elected job barely halfway through the first term turned Palin into a national nobody. She's missed a couple of Republican debates already.

Another tea party favorite Michele Bachmann has surged to the front in the first caucus state's early polls. The national media's gaffe detector is on full power for Bachmann and Palin, both mothers of five. And anyway, a large number of American voters say they wouldn't vote for Palin if she was a former governor with one national campaign under her belt.Sarah Palin at a New Hampshire house party 6-2-11

But there's a couple of little-noticed problems with any facile dismissal of Palin's possible 2012 candidacy: Media derision only feeds those who don't like her already.

It actually strengthens Palin with a wide swath of overlooked Americans who don't trust mainstream institutions but do identify with the mother of five.

Why do you think Palin keeps shooting back at the media and even starting fights when things get quiet? Any media attention is better than none. Ask Rick Santorum.

Also, American voters don't matter for beans right now. American Republican voters do.

And according to a brand-new Gallup Poll just out, these folks put Palin in a pretty doggone good position for a run. Which, of course, she clearly can't do.

Gallup finds Palin has 95% name recognition, the highest of any candidate being tracked and a coveted commodity that Santorum would pay millions for if he had them, which he doesn't.

Palin's Strongly Favorable Rating of 25% is the highest of any GOP candidate tested. But, of course, she's not a candidate. Her Strongly Unfavorable is 9%. With rounding, that gives her a Positive Intensity Score of 15.

Among top tier candidates who've been campaigning, Bachman's Positive Inrtensity Score is only three points ahead of Palin at 18. Mitt Romney, who's been effectively campaigning for more than four years now, has the same 15 as Palin. Tim Pawlenty's is 11. Ron Paul's is 9. Jon Huntsman 4.

Not included yet were former Mayor Rudy Giuliani and Texas Gov. Rick Perry, both of whom are making preparatory noises but have yet to announce anything.

In a recent Newsweek cover story Palin was quoted as saying she believes she could win a national campaign. But what does she know? She was just a former mayor who thought she could beat an incumbent Republican governor in Alaska who was part of a powerful, entrenched decades-old GOP machine. And look what happened there.

So obviously Sarah Palin can't possibly run for president in 2012.

Unless she does.

RELATED:

Sarah Palin's letter from God

Sarah Palin plays the media like a violin

Remember how Palin said Paul Revere warned the British? well, he did

-- Andrew Malcolm

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Photos: Brian Snyder / Reuters (Palin during her non-campaign campaign swing through New Hampshire last month).

 
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About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
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