Sarah Palin for president? The evidence builds

Speculation surrounding Palin's possible bid in 2012 builds, as she prepares to give a speech in Iow

It's long been speculated that Sarah Palin, doyenne of the Tea Party movement, could be gearing up to announce a presidential bid for 2012.

Further evidence that this could be the case emerged today, with the news that Palin will be the main speaker at a $100-a-seat Republican dinner in Iowa on Friday. Iowa, the state that traditionally kicks off the presidential race, is considered politically crucial. A visit to the small state is essential for anyone considering a bid for the White House.

Palin herself is well aware of the conjecture, and teased supporters (not very subtley) at a rally over the weekend, with Fox News anchor Glenn Beck:

Evidently, I'm supposed to make a big announcement here, Glenn and I together, make some big announcement, maybe about the 2012 election or something.

The former vice-presidential candidate already has a formidable fundraising machine, which raised $865,815 in spring alone. She has kept a high-profile with speaking engagements and a regular slot on Fox News, and has retained political influence by voicing support for various anti-establishment Republican candidates and speaking at Tea Party rallies. She has also assembled a team of staff who some have described as a campaign team: these include speechwriters and consultants on domestic and foreign policy. The "Mama Grizzlies" video she released in July was touted by some as the launch of her presidential bid.

But we need not panic too much. While Palin is popular enough among party activists to potentially secure a nomination, she remains a divisive figure -- not only in the country as a whole but in her own party, with the Republican establishment unlikely to support her bid.

It's likely that Palin herself has yet to decide whether she will run as she feels out potential support. However, this visit to Iowa shows that she is very much keeping her options open.

Samira Shackle is a freelance journalist, who tweets @samirashackle. She was formerly a staff writer for the New Statesman.

Ukip's Nigel Farage and Paul Nuttall. Photo: Getty
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Is the general election 2017 the end of Ukip?

Ukip led the way to Brexit, but now the party is on less than 10 per cent in the polls. 

Ukip could be finished. Ukip has only ever had two MPs, but it held an outside influence on politics: without it, we’d probably never have had the EU referendum. But Brexit has turned Ukip into a single-issue party without an issue. Ukip’s sole remaining MP, Douglas Carswell, left the party in March 2017, and told Sky News’ Adam Boulton that there was “no point” to the party anymore. 

Not everyone in Ukip has given up, though: Nigel Farage told Peston on Sunday that Ukip “will survive”, and current leader Paul Nuttall will be contesting a seat this year. But Ukip is standing in fewer constituencies than last time thanks to a shortage of both money and people. Who benefits if Ukip is finished? It’s likely to be the Tories. 

Is Ukip finished? 

What are Ukip's poll ratings?

Ukip’s poll ratings peaked in June 2016 at 16 per cent. Since the leave campaign’s success, that has steadily declined so that Ukip is going into the 2017 general election on 4 per cent, according to the latest polls. If the polls can be trusted, that’s a serious collapse.

Can Ukip get anymore MPs?

In the 2015 general election Ukip contested nearly every seat and got 13 per cent of the vote, making it the third biggest party (although is only returned one MP). Now Ukip is reportedly struggling to find candidates and could stand in as few as 100 seats. Ukip leader Paul Nuttall will stand in Boston and Skegness, but both ex-leader Nigel Farage and donor Arron Banks have ruled themselves out of running this time.

How many members does Ukip have?

Ukip’s membership declined from 45,994 at the 2015 general election to 39,000 in 2016. That’s a worrying sign for any political party, which relies on grassroots memberships to put in the campaigning legwork.

What does Ukip's decline mean for Labour and the Conservatives? 

The rise of Ukip took votes from both the Conservatives and Labour, with a nationalist message that appealed to disaffected voters from both right and left. But the decline of Ukip only seems to be helping the Conservatives. Stephen Bush has written about how in Wales voting Ukip seems to have been a gateway drug for traditional Labour voters who are now backing the mainstream right; so the voters Ukip took from the Conservatives are reverting to the Conservatives, and the ones they took from Labour are transferring to the Conservatives too.

Ukip might be finished as an electoral force, but its influence on the rest of British politics will be felt for many years yet. 

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