With no formal political operation here, Palin’s fate right now is in the hands of a California lawyer and “tea party” supporter who has anointed himself her unofficial Iowa state director, and a retired potato chip salesman who is trying to coalesce support for her online. They know each other, but neither is officially connected to SarahPAC, her national political operation.

“If Gov. Palin runs, it doesn’t hurt to have relationships and lists,” said Peter Singleton, the 56-year-old Menlo Park attorney who has been crisscrossing Iowa for months, meeting with Republicans in order to create a database for a 2012 Palin campaign, if there is one. “We’re just a network of friends at this point.”

The former chip salesman, Doug Adams, also 56, launched the blog Iowans4Palin in February. “When she came on the scene, she was speaking directly to me,” said Adams, a resident of Storm Lake, a small town about halfway between Fort Dodge and Sioux City…

“Iowa voters are ideologically and demographically her kind of voters,” McKinnon said in an email. “But they are also very discerning. She would have to campaign very seriously and spend a lot of time on the ground to demonstrate her commitment. Not sure she has it in her.”