How Palin could hurt -- or help -- Romney

So what happens? We know what President Obama’s strategists would like: a civil war between the Romney’s establishment Republicans and Palin’s Tea Party populists. They would like it to mirror the 1996 GOP race, in which Steve Forbes drained Bob Dole of resources, weakening him for the general election.

The view among Republican strategists involved with various current and past campaigns is that Romney benefits from Palin’s entry. Romney’s supporters are unlikely to leave him for Palin. Palin not only steals a portion of the anti-Romney vote from candidates like Tim Pawlenty and Jon Huntsman; she also steals available television air time. She makes it harder for second-tier candidates to get noticed…

There is one scenario, however, in which Palin’s entry could cause Romney’s numbers to fall. Right now, the dynamic of the race is that there is Romney and an anti-Romney candidate. If it becomes instead Palin and an anti-Palin candidate, Huntsman or Pawlenty might have a moment in the sun.