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.