No word as to why but Stephanopoulos has a hunch. If it’s related to her plans for next year, which way should Palinistas be rooting? Presumably they hope she’s not running for reelection so that she can devote herself full time to building a presidential campaign, a la Tim Pawlenty, but there’s no telling with the ‘Cuda. Is she going national or going away?

She’s still a favorite to win if she runs again, but not nearly as much as she once was.

Recent polls put Governor Palin’s in-state approval rating in the low or mid-50s, respectable but a far cry from one-time ratings near 90 percent. Some tie the drop to what they say is her newfound proclivity for “red meat” conservative issues over pragmatic Alaskan interests. Others cringe at the family melodramas that have become tabloid fodder. Either way, the loss of support for “Sarah-dise” – the nickname used for Palin’s smooth-running early tenure – includes some notable figures…

Dissatisfaction is summed up by one bumper sticker: “Hey Sarah … the job’s in Juneau.”

In Palin’s defense, she spent most of the past legislative session in the capital, says John Bitney, a high school friend who was her legislative liaison until a falling-out with the governor got him fired.

There is also the challenge of balancing parochial Alaskan issues with the demands of being a national Republican star. “She’s focused on the national level now, and she’s playing in a league that’s pretty big,” says Mr. Bitney, now a legislative staffer…

John Schwochert, a Palin family friend, acknowledges that the governor’s in-state popularity has diminished, but that is probably because she has settled into her job. “Everybody here’s pretty satisfied with what she’s done for the state,” he says.

I’m not sure what to make of the fact that she’s doing this from Wasilla. That would suggest something momentous, but maybe she’s just home for the holiday. Exit question: If this is something big, why did she wait for one of the slowest days on the media calendar to do it? I’d like to think she’s tweaking them by forcing them to come into work this afternoon.

Update: Anticipating the announcement, Mark Halperin offers 10 reasons why Palin might not seek reelection. Note the last one.

Update: Not sure who their source is, but BNO says the speculation is correct.

Update: BNO is citing CNN, which is in turn citing a GOP source close to Palin. Stay tuned.

Update: Here’s the CNN story. Fox News is breaking live with it too now. Wow.

Update: The more I think about it, the more this portends that she’s running for president rather than going away. If she’s planning on dropping out of politics for a while, there’s no reason to announce that she’s not running again this early. Granted, it helps clear the way for any of her underlings to start campaigning for governor, but she could tell them privately now and let them start organizing quietly. Also, the symbolism of announcing on July 4th weekend suggests grander plans. Or is she just trying to take advantage of the slow news cycle?

Update: A bombshell from BNO, which is reporting that Palin intends to resign within weeks rather than serve out her term. Why?

Update: Here’s the report from NBC affiliate KTUU that she’s stepping down in the next few weeks. The most charitable possibility is that she’s so eager to run for president that she can’t be bothered with the governorship anymore, and even that possibility ain’t too charitable. This has taken an ominous turn.

Update: Hmmm. If it’s a scandal, would CNN’s sources be offering quotes like this?

“She thinks she has accomplished goals she has set forward,” one of the sources, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said. “She sees what a positive influence she has had on people’s lives from traveling the country in the last year.”

Update: Says Ace, “It’s over. You can’t resign from a governorship and then run for higher office.” I agree. Placing your ambition over your commitment to the state looks shady, especially for someone who won’t have a single full term as governor under her belt for the primaries.

Update: Geraghty agrees with me and Ace.

David Schuster is offering a typical sneering tone, but it doesn’t make it any less accurate: “If it’s true that she’s leaving the governorship before her first term is complete, her national political career is done.”

A broken clock can be right twice a day, and Schuster is right here. If Sarah Palin wishes to someday be President of the United States, then she had to serve at least one full term in statewide office. (Yes, Obama had been in the Senate for about two years before running for president, but he had a lot of stars align for him at the right moment. Beyond that, at some point, “but Obama did it that way” isn’t a persuasive argument.)

Departing with little or no warning, after about 30 months in office, is beyond surprising. I’m sure the Lieutenant Governor will do fine, but there’s definately a sense of leaving with work unfinished and as her career was just beginning to take off.