President Palin, or the Politics of a Failing Economy.

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(Flickr/geerlingguy)

Sarah Palin has a shot at winning the presidential nomination, and some Republican strategists want to stop her before it happens:

There is rising expectation among GOP elites that Palin will probably run for president in 2012 and could win the Republican nomination, a prospect many of them regard as a disaster in waiting. [...]

"There is a determined, focused establishment effort … to find a candidate we can coalesce around who can beat Sarah Palin," said one prominent and longtime Washington Republican. "We believe she could get the nomination, but Barack Obama would crush her."

I wouldn't be so sure of Palin's terrible odds; presidential elections are tied to economic performance, and if 2012 sees anemic growth and double-digit unemployment, then I wouldn't be shocked to see Palin eke out a win against the incumbent president, assuming she is the Republican nominee.

We can already see a version of this scenario in Nevada, where Harry Reid faces long odds against Sharron Angle, a longtime state politician and radical right-winger, who is posed to join the Senate as one of its new, hyper-conservative members. Angle is clearly unqualified for high elected office, but with unemployment at 22.3 percent, no one actually cares that she would be terrible for the state.

Win or lose, Democrats (especially the White House) should take note of Sharron Angle's campaign; in bad economic times, there is no such thing as an "unelectable" candidate. Barack Obama is a gifted politician, but that means little against a bad economy and a hardened electorate.

-- Jamelle Bouie

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