1) The “early states” theory. Palin wants to earn favors in early primary states: Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina. In those states she is nominating likely winners even when (as with Iowa’s Terry Brandstad) that likely winner tilts more to the middle than Palin’s current political identity.
2) The “go with the winner” theory. Palin is seeking to make herself look more powerful within the party by claiming credit for other people’s successes.
3) The “woo women” theory. Palin has endorsed women candidates against men she might have been expected to prefer: eg Carly Fiorina over Chuck DeVore in California. These endorsements enabled and justified Palin’s recent “Mama Grizzlies” ad. By positioning herself as a champion of women in politics, Palin distracts attention from one important weakness of any Palin candidacy: her unpopularity among women voters. It’s working too.
Cillizza reminds us:
New Hampshire will hold the first primary of the Republican presidential race and Ayotte, if she gets to the Senate, will be a highly sought after endorsement. Palin also has endorsed candidates for governor in Iowa (Terry Branstad) and South Carolina (Nikki Haley) -- two other states that will play a critical role in deciding the identity of the party's nominee.
Shawn Millerick at Now! Hampshire looks local:
[The endorsement] set off an earthquake that shook the political landscape in New Hampshire.
This most certainly is a boost to Ayotte’s campaign and a blow to her GOP opponents. Lamontage has been trying to get traction as the real conservative in the race, but the twin blows of Palin’s endorsement of Ayotte and Lamontagne’s recent fundraising release of barely $100,000 for the quarter spell the end of his campaign. And with Palin’s support Ayotte’s conservative credentials are solidified, setting up a primary showdown with her liberal primary opponent, country club owner Bill Binnie.
Binnie is pro-choice, pro-gay marriage, pro-amnesty for illegal immigrants, against the AZ immigration law, pro-TARRP bailout, pro-VAT tax and has a history of campaign contributions to Democrats. With Lamontagne and other candidates unable to get traction, the GOP senate nomination is shaping up to be a two person race between conservative Kelly Ayotte and liberal Bill Binnie.
(The YouTube ad was made a year ago.)