Secular Right | Reality & Reason



Sarah Palin 2012

Noah Millman mulls the chances. Noah is not a fan, to be sure. I’ve increased my probability that Palin will be the nominee in 2012 a fair amount since I last thought about this. Also, since we’re midway through 2010, closer to the point where the nomination will be de facto secured, my uncertainty window has decreased. I assumed that the Republican establishment would simply screw her at some point before 2012, but my assessment of that establishment’s strength has diminished (e.g., their candidate did not win in the Kentucky or Nevada primaries). Additionally, I think the passage of the spring health care bill reduces Romney’s chances, who is probably ideally positioned to catch the backing of the establishment.

So if I had to guess I would say a 25% probability of securing nomination in 2012 for Sarah Palin. This underestimates my new evaluation of Palin because I don’t know for sure whether she’s running. I’d guess a 60% chance she runs seriously, so that means a 42% probability of winning if she ran.

I judge that Mitt Romney’s chances are not very high right now, mostly because it’s just too easy to depict him as a milquetoast moderate flip-flopper with no real charisma. It’s too easy because there’s a lot of validity to those charges. I wouldn’t say 0%. There were times when John McCain looked dead in late 2007. But I’d probably pin Romney at 5% at most as his current ceiling.

Let me end by saying that I don’t follow politics closely, so the numbers above are more to give you a good precise sense of my vague impressions, than anything I have real confidence in. My uncertainty is probably +/- 10% standard deviation for the Palin probabilities.



  • Rollins · July 22, 2010 at 6:02 pm

    The Intrade betting markets are always of interest. They are in broad agreement with you on Palin, but give Romney a much better chance than you do, making him the (not odds-on) favorite. Here are the current prices.

    To win nomination:
    Romney 29%
    Palin 20%
    Thune 13%
    Pawlenty 11%
    Gingrich 11%

    Palin to announce run by December 2011: 63%

    Thune does quite well here considering he’s almost unknown to the general public. Is he considered the establishment’s backup to Romney?

    I normally take Intrade’s probabilities as better than anything I could come up with, for all the usual market efficiency reasons. I do think though they are overestimating Gingrich’s chances.

  • RandyB · July 22, 2010 at 6:06 pm

    Sarah Palin or Newt Gingrich being the nominee are about the only things that would make me vote to re-elect Obama.

  • Author comment by David Hume · July 22, 2010 at 6:17 pm

    I normally take Intrade’s probabilities as better than anything I could come up with, for all the usual market efficiency reasons. I do think though they are overestimating Gingrich’s chances.

    yeah, i agree with you! intrade is better than nothing. though politics it hasn’t been that much better than following tracking polls.

  • Debrah · July 22, 2010 at 6:30 pm

    “Let me end by saying that I don’t follow politics closely, so the numbers above are more to give you a good precise sense of my vague impressions…….”


    So why comment about this topic at all?

    Such a tentative venture.

    Rather like putting one foot in the ocean to substitute for a swim.

    If Republicans are desperate enough to nominate Palin in 2012, they are essentially guaranteeing Obama (whom I supported in 2008 but am now experiencing voter’s remorse) a second term……..for better or worse.

  • Author comment by David Hume · July 22, 2010 at 7:12 pm

    political commentary should be *more*, not *less*, tentative IMO.

  • A-Bax · July 22, 2010 at 7:36 pm

    I’m troubled by what looks like a leadership vacuum in the GOP, which has allowed celebu-pol Palin to fill the void (for now).

    Hopefully that’ll change over the next two years, after the DEMs get slaughtered this November. Boehner will be more prominent, etc. Maybe Paul Ryan will head up a fiscal committee of some kind.

    Beyond her Hillary-like powers of polarization, a Palin candidacy suffers from the unanswerable charge that she is fundamentally unserious about governing – as evidenced by her resigning her post as Alaska’s governor.

    Seriously, she got a taste of the celebrity life – the fancy clothes, the adoring crowds – and simply shluffed off her duty to the people of Alaska. How can someone like that be taken seriously?

    (I know, I know…a thin resume of voting-present and organizing communities would seemingly be insufficient qualifications for winning the Presidency, but the Preppie From Paradise pulled it off. So you never know).

  • Susan · July 22, 2010 at 11:49 pm

    The thing about Palin is that what her devotees love most about her, and consider to be her prime qualifications for the presidency (the inarticulacy, the ability to shoot and dress a moose, the religious fundamentalism)are the very things that repel secular conservatives, coast Republicans, independents, and disaffected Democrats, all of whom she’d need to win a general election.

  • Panglos · July 23, 2010 at 1:24 am

    Palin/Christie ….the others have too much big govt. baggage and they ooze leadership.

  • Manish · July 23, 2010 at 2:01 am

    Palin could win by cannily maximizing the base, but she’d get crushed in the general. I hope. There are still lots of sane people out there, right?

  • dfhjdh · July 23, 2010 at 6:58 am

    I fully support Palin for the presidency/titular monarch for a couple of years but need to vociferously reject her for the premiership. We just spent 8 years under a know-nothing idiot, have we learnt absolutely NOTHING from the experience?

    Look, our presidents are all milquetoast puppets anyway but there’s still a big difference between a Nixon and a W. While Nixon was a crafty fucker who was undoubtedly less likable than Dubya, the thought of him as president (save during the Saturday Night Massacre) wasn’t terrifying. Under W nobody was minding the store. We don’t need that again.

  • steve · July 23, 2010 at 7:20 am

    I used to be a gop supporter before the wingnut south got total control over it. (and before i looked at american history since I was born (1976) and realized that they are actually the fiscally irresponsible party.)

  • Moshe Rudner · July 23, 2010 at 8:33 am

    My general concern when reading political commentary is that the writer or commentators may be taking the thing seriously and that by throwing in my own estimation and comments I might similarly be considered to be genuinely concerned with American politics.

    My assumption (and hope) in this particular instance however is that while – sure – there are the occasional actual issues of thin import where one president might act in a substantially different way than another with an outcome that affects the happiness of his or her fellow citizens for better or for worse, in general we all pretty much agree with Mencken and are simply sports-fans who prefer to bet on marketers and lobbyists rather than defensive linemen and outfielders.

    The Honorable Sage:

    “Turn, now, to politics. Consider, for example, a campaign for the Presidency. Would it be possible to imagine anything more uproariously idiotic—a deafening, nerve-wracking battle to the death between Tweedledum and Tweedledee, Harlequin and Sganarelle, Gobbo and Dr. Cook—the unspeakable, with fearful snorts, gradually swallowing the inconceivable? I defy any one to match it elsewhere on this earth. In other lands, at worst, there are at least intelligible issues, coherent ideas, salient personalities. Somebody says something, and somebody replies. But what did Harding say in 1920, and what did Cox reply? Who was Harding, anyhow, and who was Cox? Here, having perfected democracy, we lift the whole combat to symbolism, to transcendentalism, to metaphysics. Here we load a pair of palpably tin cannon with blank cartridges charged with talcum powder, and so let fly. Here one may howl over the show without any uneasy reminder that it is serious, and that some one may be hurt. I hold that this elevation of politics to the plane of undiluted comedy is peculiarly American, that nowhere else on this disreputable ball has the art of the sham-battle been developed to such fineness.”

  • Cass · July 23, 2010 at 12:57 pm

    If the GOP runs Sarah Palin, you can expect another 4 years of Obama.

  • Susan · July 23, 2010 at 2:26 pm

    What I fear is a kind of de facto third party forming around Palin: People who will simply refuse to vote for any candidate but her.

  • Susan · July 23, 2010 at 4:06 pm

    This just in…Palin’s going to do a reality show for Discovery with Kate Gosselin. She and Gosselin will take their kids on a joint camping trip in Alaska.

    Nothing quite like shoring up one’s credentials as a serious candidate, is there?

  • RandyB · July 23, 2010 at 10:58 pm

    I don’t think Sarah Palin will be nominated, because the Republicans usually do well at not nominating Presidential candidates who are highly offensive to centrists. John McCain, GOVERNOR George W Bush, Robert Dole and George Bush the Elder are not Mike Huckabee, John Ashcroft, Newt Gingrich or Jesse Helms.

  • Susan · July 23, 2010 at 11:18 pm

    I could well be wrong, but I don’t think Palin has any real intention of being a serious candidate, although I think she’ll hold out the possibility as long as she can in order to milk it for all it’s worth. And really, why should she run? What she’s doing now–starring in reality shows, making speeches for 100 grand a pop–is considerably more lucrative.

  • Randall Parker · July 30, 2010 at 1:18 am

    I expect the economy in 2012 to provide conditions very favorable to the Republicans. The price of oil will remain high and might go even higher and push the economy back into recession.

    We need someone smarter than Palin as President. But she still might be better than Obama.

  • cynthia curran · July 30, 2010 at 2:25 am

    Well, Sarah if she is nominated probably will get as much votes as Barry Goldwater. Actually, I think if Whitman could upset Brown in California she could be the nominatee in 2016. Whitman reminds me of Gerald Ford who almost beat Carter. One of those centalists, Repubs have pretty much givern up on Calif since Obama even won San Diego but a Whitman could changed things in the future since she has some hispanic and asain support and both demographics are growing while old fashion white liberals in the bay area are aging.

  • Randall Parker · July 31, 2010 at 2:26 am

    Cynthia, Whitman’s problem is that she has to move so far left in the general election for governor that her positions will turn off Republicans in the rest of the country. She’s already shifted away from immigration restriction since winning the primary.



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