Palin would have a better shot at winning by running a traditional campaign

To begin with, she’d probably be leading in the polls. After the 2008 election, Palin was the GOP’s hottest commodity, a bona fide sensation who had captivated a party brought low by George W. Bush. Had she taken on the role of leader-in-waiting, she would have been difficult to challenge. Instead, she kept everyone guessing and let other candidates emerge, and, in Romney’s case, overtake her.

Palin’s greatest vulnerability is the impression that she’s erratic. A well-orchestrated campaign like the one that Karl Rove rolled out for Bush ahead of the 2000 primaries could have mollified some skeptics. Like Palin, Bush was regarded as callow and not quite up to the job. Those doubts mostly vanished after a carefully arranged regimen of policy conferences, thematic speeches, and personal appeals to major GOP donors. By contrast, Palin’s support among Republicans has declined steadily since the last election. As her bus zigzags between national landmarks, trailed by an army of reporters mystified about her plans and intentions, she seems more erratic than ever…

A professional operation with strategists and surrogates and talking points could have amplified a compelling message. How many people know, for example, that Palin’s major accomplishment as governor, reforming the state’s oil-tax structure, is largely responsible for creating Alaska’s $12 billion budget surplus? Or that, at a time when the US credit rating could actually be cut, Moody’s recently raised Alaska’s rating to AAA, citing its fiscal health?

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