Jennifer Rubin does us all a small service this morning over on Commentary’s “Contentions” blog in pointing out that at this stage, polls of GOP 2012 presidential contenders are basically meaningless. Interestingly, though, if you look closely at what she says, you realize they’re not quite as meaningless as they would normally be:
They are a function of name identification. The field is not set, the candidates have not yet engaged, and the inevitable unflattering revelations haven’t come.
While it remains true that there is much to happen between now and the 2012 primary season, that we don’t actually know who will be running, and that as Rubin says, “You actually have to see how the candidates perform and who cannabalizes whose voters,” there’s one partial exception to her argument: Sarah Palin. For Gov. Palin, those inevitable unflattering revelations have come, and been rehashed, and been beaten to death, along with a whole host of attempts to invent additional ones; there’s nothing left for enemies to dig up, it’s all out there.
Those who would marginalize her like to talk about her “baggage,” but the truth is, Gov. Palin doesn’t really have baggage. Change the metaphor, think of the sort of revelations Rubin is talking about as a political plague, and there’s a much more apt way to describe her situation: Gov. Palin has been inoculated. She’s already had that plague and survived. Yes, that has lingering effects, and yes, that will be a particular challenge for her to overcome—but the upside to that is a degree of immunity that will make it hard for rivals to take her down. The polling on them (at least most of them) is indeed before the “inevitable unflattering revelations” that will wipe some of them out and cripple others; hers is after, and well after. That is no small advantage.