Buzz has been building about the possibility of that Sarah Palin will run for President after all. Palin announced on Thursday that she will launch a bus tour of key primary states this weekend. She made the announcement after telling Greta van Susteren that she has “that fire in my belly” to defeat Obama in 2012. She also has a documentary about her—which she solicited a conservative filmmaker to make—premiering in Iowa in June.
With her nearly universal name recognition and devout following, Palin would be an early favorite to win the Republican nomination if she does decide to run. As Nate Silver says, now that former Arkansas Governor—and her fellow Fox News contributor—Mike Huckabee has decided not to run, Palin should have less competition for evangelical Christians and social conservatives. Of course, Palin doesn’t seem to be laying the groundwork for a national political operation they way most of serious candidates do. She may simply be flirting with a presidential run as a way of staying in the public eye. But it may be, as Karl Rove told Van Susteren, that Palin simply doesn’t think the ordinary rules apply to someone of her celebrity.
Democrats seem to be hoping Palin does run. With Palin’s high unfavorable ratings among moderates, President Obama would be a heavy favorite to defeat her in the general election. Democrats would certainly enjoy the spectacle of Sarah Palin and Tea Party leader Michele Bachmann running against each other. And, as Perry Bacon Jr. argues, Palin’s presence in the race might force more moderate Republicans like Mitt Romney and Tim Pawlenty to take extreme positions that will end up alienating the independent voters they will need to win the general election. At the same time a Palin candidacy could help fire up a Democratic base determined to keep her from winning the election.