Here’s my pessimism post from the day she was announced; I think it held up well. She did cost McCain one vote — namely, Dennis Hopper’s — but she surely didn’t cost him 100 EVs, which it turns out is what he would have needed to win. Onward and upward, then, for the ‘Cuda. Anyone who can draw a crowd the way she does has a future nationally, but Fey plus the Couric and Gibson interviews leaves her with image repair to do among the indies she’d have to win to be president. The way forward, as I see it:

1. Don’t run for Senate. Run for governor again.

2. Study. The left will be expecting doltishness in every policy interview she gives going forward. Each one is an opportunity to surprise them.

3. Embrace bipartisanship. The ‘Cuda has the base in her pocket, thanks partly to her record, partly to her personal charm, and partly to her Jacksonian moose-hunter persona. I’m half convinced that if she came out for immediate and unconditional amnesty tomorrow, she’d flip 50 percent of conservatives instantly on the issue. Since there’s nothing she can do to alienate them, forget about them and concentrate on the center. She has a record of working with Dems in Alaska; that’s been complicated by her attacks on The One, but she’s got nothing but time to put it back together.

4. Keep a high national profile. A fundraiser here, a TV appearance there, periodic conference calls with the staff of the Weekly Standard, and she’s in business. Some sort of charitable initiative, ideally one that takes her overseas, would also be useful.

And there you have it. Foolproof, unless the sniping from McCain aides (and possibly McCain himself) destroys her reputation — which it won’t, per point 3. Exit question poll: Romney 33, Huckabee 20, Palin 18.