History suggests the GOP will nominate Romney or Palin

Palin is the only potential candidate on the Republican side with star power. It’s hard to quantify that trait, but Reagan had it. Ever since his time, Republicans have been convinced that charisma is king. And, as a friend recently told me, “When liberals continuously deride her, many conservatives take it as an attack upon themselves.” That’s a powerful rallying mechanism. Nominating Palin is a way for conservatives to stick it to Eastern elites.
Of course, that doesn’t mean the Republicans would win; Goldwater certainly didn’t. If Obama is going to be tough to beat, the question becomes almost a philosophical one: If you’re going to lose anyway, is it better to lose atop the horse you really want to ride? Moreover, as all conservatives know, the great Goldwater defeat of 1964 set the table – although it took awhile – for the Reagan Revolution. (Ronald Reagan, of course, is sui generis: He fits both models: The old guy who has waited his turn and the true blue conservative that the GOP “base” really wanted.)
We don’t have Reagan waiting to run in 2012, and so it’s a time, as The Gipper would say, for choosing. After years of holding our noses and defending Republican establishment types, conservatives might find it fun to take a big chance on an unapologetic conservative. Don’t forget, primaries are not a national election, but a series of state contests and caucuses in which the participants are a political party’s most committed members. Palin may not play well in New York, but how about in the caucuses of Iowa, where Pat Robertson finished ahead of Vice President George H.W. Bush in 1988? Or South Carolina, where Reagan broke through in 1980?

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