How much grassroots influence does Palin have now?

The response reflects how Palin’s star has traveled from a central place in the galaxy of conservative politics to a more nebulous, quasi-pop culture, quasi-political realm that is the dwelling place of figures such as Donald Trump.

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It is a shift that many conservatives believe does not necessarily diminish Palin’s political influence. They note that she can still grab headlines and channel grass-roots frustration, as she did recently by urging South Carolina primary voters to back Newt Gingrich, saying “you gotta rage against the machine.” Many say Palin could shake up the primary if she endorses a candidate, or speaks out directly against tenuous front-runner Mitt Romney.

Others, though, say that with her stint on reality TV, her contract with Fox News and what many considered a disingenuous flirtation with running for president, Palin has permanently undermined her value to political causes.

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