Independents in both states moved towards the GOP in a pretty big way and this movement had everything to with precisely the above issues – the economy, jobs, taxes, a desire for fiscal responsibility, which both McDonnell and Christie stayed focused on – and not cultural issues such as same sex marriage, which is what Hoffman and the Club for Growth focused on.

If Palin wants to be considered a credible presidential candidate for 2012, she needs to not only release her book and go on Oprah, but she needs to weigh in on serious issues (like energy and the size of government and taxing and spending) and support candidates in 2010 who promote those issues.

Palin has lots of opportunities to do that, Brown says, adding: “But if she wants to win, then she has to move away from her ‘rebellious, risk-taking conservative’ image and adopt more of a ‘substantive, discerning reformer’ image.”