Ezra does not point to any empirical or anecdotal evidence to support this assertion. Indeed, recent events suggest otherwise. Her advice was not heeded on the tax deal. Her numbers are sinking as a potential 2012 candidate. And when one talks to Republicans in private gatherings, on the Hill, and even in Tea Party gatherings it is rare to find anyone who labels Palin as the party's leader or who looks to her for guidance on major issues. This is not a slur on Palin; she has an important and essential role in rallying the base, getting under Obama's skin and debunking much of what passes for conventional wisdom.
So who but liberal elites, who pine for a ready made target (in precisely the same way they defined Rush Limbaugh as the leader of the GOP after Obama's election), consider Palin the voice of the right?
I would think the polls that place her in the first tier among primary voters, the massive name-recognition, the absence of any rival of her star power, the vast book sales: all of these point to as strong a candidacy as any out there right now.