But the entire analysis is flawed. Because the "Holy shit, she's fucking crazy" factor of her decision was the least of her troubles. This isn't just about whether her supporters will continue to support her immediately after she makes a crazy decision. Of course they will. They were batshit crazy before she resigned and I see no reason why her resignation would make them any more sane.
But the bigger issue is that she won't be governor anymore. And that changes everything. Were the election next year, this could work. But she can't seriously start running for another two years and will be unemployed until then. And for as much as she's likely to stay in contact with her base doing speeches and stuff, she'll be out of the limelight. And that's death to an attention-hound like Palin. Fame is all she has.
I mean, even as governor, she had so much trouble ginning up publicity that she had to keep turning to public feuds in order to stay newsworthy. But now without a respectable day job, she's purely a sideshow. She'll no longer be the crazy attention-seeking governor of Alaska, but now the crazy attention-seeking ex-governor who stepped down without explanation. She had a hard enough time looking respectable as governor. This didn't help.
No One Likes the Indefensible
And believe it or not, but conservatives aren't nearly as hardcore as they pretend to be. They're influenced by events outside of themselves. No one wants to defend the indefensible. They can if they must, but they'd rather not. And having quit early, they just won't have much to defend her with. Even a one-term governorship isn't a strong record to stand on for someone with as few accomplishments as Palin. But a partial term that she quit??
As a reminder, even her defenders insisted that her lousy resume was acceptable because she was only running for VP, and would learn from "the master." And that resume didn't get any better since then, and is definitely not getting any better now. Instead, it's just going to get more stale. She'll stay on the talk circuit, giving speeches about how victimized she is, and the core base will eat it up. But even they will have a hard time defending their support of her as a convincing presidential nominee. They'll still love her, but they'll be hard pressed to explain to anyone why.
I predict that, assuming she even has the gumption to run, she's going to be the Giuliani of 2012. She'll be on everyone's top five list and maintain a respectable following in the polls leading into the primaries, but she'll be stale and unable to break out of that base following. Even as it is, only 67% of Republicans polled said they want to see Palin stay on the national scene, and that's based on what people think of her now. I don't see how she's improving on that number, and the more she slips from the daily news, the more that'll drop.
And that's too bad, as I'd love to see a Obama v. Palin match-up in 2012. But I just can't see that happening. A half-term governor with a thin resume was fairly indefensible as a VP nominee. A half-term ex-governor who hasn't done anything but talk to her cultish followers is a complete joke. And that's even assuming that the general reaction of her in two years isn't "Oh yeah, I remember her. Wasn't she the crazy lady who suddenly quit her job without a reason?"