Unfair though it may be, this is a turning point for Palin

Palin didn’t respond to an email Sunday afternoon. Her advisers are furious that she’s being linked to the tragedy, but recognize the delicacy of the situation and are trying to assess how best to halt it from spiraling further without making it any worse…

Palin’s allies point out the unfairness of the situation, one that may force her to respond to a tragic event where there is so far no evidence that deranged shooter Jared Lee Loughner ever even mentioned Palin’s name, let alone found inspiration from her “targeting” of Giffords…

Consider these metrics: As of mid-day Saturday, Google trends showed that Palin ranked as the sixth-most popular search on “hot topics” and “Sarah Palin crosshairs” was number nine on the list of “hot searches.” Further, Facebook’s Randi Zuckberg told ABC that the top question being asked on Facebook Sunday was: “’Is Sarah Palin to blame?”

Few Republicans would speak openly about the political stakes for Palin, but privately a number of strategists said that the mere existence of these internet searches and questions underscored her challenge.