A data point from today’s new national numbers showing Perry leading with 26 percent, Romney with 18, and Palin with eight.

Et tu, tea partiers?

A separate survey conducted by Mark Blumenthal of 151 GOP “power outsiders” (i.e. influential Republicans in Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina) found that 81 percent of them also thought she shouldn’t run. Of that group, 76 percent said they agree with her on the issues but just 37 percent thought she could beat Obama if nominated. I’m much less certain of that than they are under the current economic circumstances, but there you go.

All along I’ve assumed that she’d jump in this month but lately I feel less certain. On the one hand, if she wasn’t planning to announce on Saturday, why would her team care whether O’Donnell precedes her onstage or not? That’s a sign that she’s in and wants the optics to be perfect for the big moment. On the other hand, would a new candidate leave the trail next month to fly to South Korea for a speech to the World Knowledge Forum? And what about this, via ABC:

A source close to SarahPAC said Palin’s team was upset by how Tea Party of America organizers hyped the event; Tea Party of America, they believed, was trying to promote the event based on the chance Palin would announce her campaign intentions at the Saturday rally.

Why object to hype suggesting that she’s planning to announce if she really is planning to announce? If she’s worried about the other speakers feeling overshadowed or the tea party’s message being overlooked in the media frenzy over whether she’s jumping in, the obvious solution was to say forthrightly that she won’t be announcing at the event. The fact that she won’t only makes the hype more intense, regardless of what the organizers say or do.

ABC has a preview, in broad terms, of what she’s planning to say Saturday. This could go either way:

A source close to Palin told ABC News that she’ll offer a “full throated defense of the tea party.”

“Regardless of what she decides to do, this rally is for the tea party to kick off this campaign,” the source said, “this” being the 2012 presidential campaign.

ABC News has also learned that Palin’s speech will reference themes from an Aug. 8 Facebook post called “Conquering the Storm.” It discusses the Standard & Poor’s downgrade of the nation’s credit rating and her solutions to the country’s financial woes.

A source close to Palin told ABC News last week that her speech at Saturday’s “Restoring America” event will be a substantive, big-picture vision of America.

That sort of speech could easily end with her saying, “And because the tea party’s vision is so important, I feel duty-bound to try to bring it to the White House next year.” Or it could end with her saying, “The tea party’s vision is bigger than all of us, which is why my supporters should take heart and continue to fight the good fight even though I’ve decided not to run.” Or, I guess, it could end with her saying nothing at all about her candidacy and leaving people to keep wondering, which will be exasperating to everyone but the most devout Palin fan. Exit question: How does this end?