Shock! Sarah Palin can raise money!
Well, perhaps not quite: It's no secret that the former vice presidential candidate can bring home the dough (for herself, if nothing else). But a new Federal Election Commission filing from her political-action committee, SarahPAC, has political circles atwitter.
The old conventional wisdom was that for all her reputed popularity, Palin didn't poll all that well nationally and would likely struggle in the harsh spotlight, much as she did during the 2008 campaign. Suddenly, politics watchers are falling over each other to change their minds. Politico's Ben Smith says, "This is a big political story, and one that has me rethinking Palin's future a bit."
The big change? It's not the money coming in, although that's a big number—the PAC's $866,000 haul in the second quarter was its largest for a three-month stretch since Palin founded it. Besides, it was her well-known fundraising prowess that was behind abortive calls for her to replace Republican National Committee chair Michael Steele.
What's different here is the money going out. When my colleague Andrew Romano argued in April that Palin wasn't planning a presidential run, it was her stinginess with funds that he latched onto. Now, though, the Palin camp is opening its coffers. SarahPAC doled out $742,000, another internal record, in the second quarter, putting money where her already influential mouth is.
Not everyone's convinced. CNN's Peter Hamby says SarahPAC is right on target to match its 2009 take, and Marc Ambinder says the numbers mean nothing if she doesn't back them up with a quickly expanded staff and attempts to portray herself as a more polished policy expert. Meanwhile, Greg Sargent suggests (with perhaps justifiable cynicism) that the only reason you're hearing about this is that the media know readers eat up Palin news.
Pace Sargent, the filing is worth noting. If nothing else, it proves that Palin is, as Hamby says, "doing things she is supposed to." But it might be a little premature to order that custom-made Palin 2012 yard sign.