PALINMALLNicholasKamm:Getty

In the wake of the O'Donnell win, Paul Mirengoff is now on the same page as me that "the nomination is Sarah Palin's to lose":

[W]here else is [the Tea Party] vote going to go? Romney instituted a program of mandatory health insurance in Massachusetts. Huckabee was not a small government governor. Gingrich was a Washington insider. Governors who actually served out their terms probably made some tough decisions that won't appeal to Tea Party purists.

[B]acked by the Tea Party movement, Palin can win between 30 and 40 percent of the vote in many of the early multi-candidate primaries and caucuses. This doesn't seem like a reach, given the vote count for Tea Party movement candidates this year. ... Palin can ride a vote count of 30 to 40 percent in crowded early primaries to the front of the pack and then increase that count to 50 percent plus as the field narrow in the later primaries. John McCain's campaign in 2008 supports the view that a candidate can get out front by consistently winning 30 to 40 percent of the vote in the early, multi-candidate field. What might happen once the field narrows is anyone's guess. But unless Palin self-destructs along the way, I question whether anyone in the likely field is capable of defeating her head-to-head.

(Photo: Nicholas Kamm/Getty)

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