Matt McDaniel

6 minute read

The 2016 Sideshow

Step right up, one and all! The 2016 Primary season is about to kick into full swing and we have coverage to shock and excite your deepest concerns about the future of the nation. See: the woman with the amazing eyes who can see Russia from her house but not foresee a disastrous bid for the Vice Presidency. See: the man with more millions than follicles. See: Governors so obscure you wonder if they ever actually served in office. See: Pastors working the miracle of turning hype into gold. All here, all now, at!

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The 2016 Sideshow: Sarah Palin

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Quick Facts:

Former Governor of Alaska who abruptly resigned in the middle of her term

Former Vice Presidential nominee on John McCain’s ill-fated 2008 bid for the White House

Regular butt of jokes for late night comedians

Regular Fox News contributor and social media personality

Star of an ill-fated reality-esque television series

Ardent support from the anti-establishment Republican base

Ardent opposition from the establishment wing of the Republican Party


Why is this Person Interesting?

Sarah Palin was a few million votes away from being the Vice President of the United States under a President John McCain. Her folksy manner of speaking and her clear lack of preparation for dealing with prime-time America made her rollout in the 2008 campaign an utter disaster. Much of this really wasn’t Palin’s fault. By most indicators, Palin was on track to be a fairy competent, if obscure Governor of Alaska until she was hoisted out of the great white north and thrust onto the national stage. From what seemed like day one, Palin and McCain’s handlers were at constant loggerheads (which should baffle any historian looking back on this race as to why McCain’s vetting process for a running mate was so poor at finding someone who could at least play well with McCain’s staff).

After McCain’s poor performance in the campaign and the 2008 election, Palin’s political brand had been completely tarnished. She was generally cast aside by the establishment and was expected to retreat into anonymity back in Alaska. To Palin’s credit, she attempted to remain a vocal member of the opposition during Obama’s presidency. However, most likel because of pending ethics charges, Palin resigned the Governorship of Alaska before the completion of her first term.

Since her departure from her role as governor, Palin has remained active courting the most conservative factions of the Republican Party. She has regularly broken from the Party on the selection of nominees and has worked to secure nominations of Tea Party favorites. She has used her considerable name recognition to bolster the social conservative message of the Tea Party and has been active on social media and has written two books.

Does this Person Have Something to Gain by Running?

Sarah Palin likely has very little to gain by a run for the White House. At the moment, her financial success comes from trading on her brand of folksy anti-establishment conservatism. There is very little that would benefit her brand by running for President and having to force her ephemeral “opposition” brand of rhetoric into real answers.

What Kind of “Perfect Storm” Could Put this Person in the Presidency?

In the event that, despite the depth of the Republican field, each of the social conservative or Tea Party candidates’ campaigns collapsed, Palin may see an opportunity to unite the counter-establishment wings of the Party. Palin’s relative notoriety and ability to appeal to primary voters would make her a formidable challenger to Jeb Bush, whose “Bush Legacy” may fail to win over the social conservatives who see Palin as a better continuation of the Bush Doctrine in foreign affairs.

In the general election, Palin’s chance at the White House would entirely depend on an utter implosion of Hillary Clinton’s campaign or the unlikely event that there is a non-Hillary nominee with a strong liberal bias.

Does this Person Hurt or Help the Primary System?

Sarah Palin would not hurt or help the overall Republican Primary. Her politics are in line with potential candidates like Ted Cruz. While her running would certainly add some additional star power to a nomination fight that may already be headed for a brokered convention, Governor Palin most likely realizes there is very little chance that, even with better handling, she will be able to rebrand sufficiently to cast off the shadow of 2008’s embarrassment.

Palin’s campaign would not be a farce like others who may occupy the “Sideshow of 2016,” but it would be more of a novelty than a true bid for power.

Bottom Line:

Governor Palin became, probably unfairly, a caricature of Republican buffoonery in 2008. Her resignation from office before she completed her first term as Governor of Alaska as well as her doubling down on her politics to appeal to a certain political niche makes her an easy target for candidates with more substantial resumes. While Palin has a vocal and loyal following, such voters would be asked to choose between Palin, who has spent the last few years as a media presence, and current two-term governors and sitting senators.

GovMatt’s Opinion: Sarah Palin is unlikely to run for President. However, her endorsements in some areas will carry weight. I expect her to come out early in support of either Ted Cruz or Scott Walker. However, in the event she withholds her endorsement, she may be playing for additional prominence among the social conservative candidates.


Extra: The 2016 Sideshow Quip: Donald Trump

This person isn’t worth a full article, even in the sideshow.

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Quick Facts:

Real Estate mogul and television personality

Argued that the United States should have taken Iraq’s oil as spoils of war

Teased running for president in the weak 2012 field

Why is this Person Interesting?

He isn’t.

Does this Person Have Something to Gain by Running?

Donald Trump gains additional viewers for his reality show and free publicity just by teasing a run for President. Were he actually to run, he would not likely gain very much at all.

What Kind of “Perfect Storm” Could Put this Person in the Presidency?

Some sort of wormhole that leads to the bizzaro universe?

Does this Person Hurt or Help the Primary System?

Donald Trump hurts the primary system by making a mockery of it. His candidacy would be a farce.

Bottom Line:

Donald Trump is just trying to make more money off of teasing news outlets with nothing better to report.