In light of recent polling data, reports of Sarah Palin's political death appear to have been a tad premature. Released Tuesday, Palin's numbers in a USA Today/Gallop poll indicate she retains a significant base of public support despite the abrupt announcement of her impending resignation as Governor of Alaska this past Friday. Taken Monday, the poll found that 43% of respondents were at least somewhat likely to vote for Palin were she to run for president in 2012, including 19% who indicated they were very likely to vote for the former Republican vice presidential nominee. While the poll identifies a solid base from which Palin might potentially launch her next foray into the national political scene, it also highlights a significant hurdle with 54% of respondents indicating they are not likely to vote for her. Of that group, 41% said they were not at all likely to do so. Significant as that is, Palin may find fertile ground for improving her standing in the 13% identifying themselves as not too likely to vote for her. Though purveyors of conventional wisdom in the punditocracy have issued their obituaries for Palin's political career, 39% of Americans said they would like to see her take on a major role on the national political stage. Again, belying the conventional political wisdom that the mavericky Conservative firebrand's appeal was isolated solely to her fellow political travelers, 34% of Independents supported a prominent role for Palin in the future. As one might naturally expect, Democrats were least supportive with 18%, while Republicans rewarded the charismatic mother of five and grandmother of one with 67%. Further demonstrating the inability of the punditocracy to accurately gauge the impact of Palin's enigmatic announcement, 70% of Americans said her decision to resign with 18 months remaining in her term had no affect on their view of her, be it positive or negative. This was followed by 17% who viewed her less favorably and 9% who were subsequently more inclined towards her. Not only does the data suggest the punditocracy's pronouncement of Palin's political death were premature, it also appears that they are increasingly out of touch with the electorate as a whole. Supporting their standard talking points, 70% of Democrats said they were not at all likely to vote for Palin for president in 2012. Given the tack of many pundits and their insistence on Palin's polarizing effect, one would expect a similar number of Republicans would be very likely to vote for her. This is not the case, though, with only 35% of Republicans indicating they were very likely to do so. Further evidence of the disconnect between the pundits and the public can be seen in Independent voters. Contrary to popular belief among talking heads, Independents are not repulsed en mass by Palin. Indeed, they track closely with overall public sentiment with 44% being at least somewhat likely and 54% at least somewhat unlikely to vote for her for president. While there is clearly Palin polarization, it appears to be firmly rooted in Democrat voters. Comparatively, Palin's current numbers trail those of Hillary Clinton in 2005. At the time, 52% of voters indicated they were likely to vote for her for president in 2008, with 28% saying they were very likely to do so. This illustrates the fact that front runner status early on is far from a guarantee of being their party's standard bearer at the end of the nominating race. Indeed, not only did Clinton lose to Obama- a first term US Senator who literally came out of nowhere over the course of four years - early Republican front runner Rudy Guliani failed to mount any semblance of a credible national campaign at all, much less seriously contend for the Grand Old Party's nomination. Palin and her die-hard supporters would be well advised to take this lesson to heart. Nonetheless, two things are striking in the current discussion over the perpetually perky pol's future. First is the fact that in less than a year she has roared from literal political obscurity in America's Great White North to center stage. This time last year, Palin was a relative unknown even among Republican activists and Conservative pundits. I myself listed her in the second tier of potential McCain running mates, particularly in light of the recent birth of son Trig. Though I believed she might well become a prominent player in national Republican politics, I didn't see it occurring any earlier than the 2010-2012 window. To be sure, her meteoric rise is surpassed only by that of the current occupant of the Oval Office. The next point that stands out is the media's recurrent inability to accurately analyze the unconventional. The week following the 2006 midterm election, the media summarily crowned Hillary Clinton the 2008 Democratic presidential nominee. Though they diligently covered Barack Obama's campaign announcement in February, 2007, it was treated primarily as a novelty. While his candidacy had historical and emotional resonance, Obama's odds were better of winning the multi-state Powerball lottery than bringing out of the pack of the Democratic Seven Dwarfs to even begin to conside seriously challenging the media-annointed Hillary. Not till Obama successfully repelled Clinton's dogged Super Tuesday counteroffensive did the media begin to grasp the force of the undercurrent that was swirling beneath the surface of the political waters. The same holds true for Palin. Initial coverage of Palin's selection as McCain's running mate varied from the historical significance of the first female on a Republican presidential ticket to amused novelty to open disbelief and condescension. The stories of unprecedented gender progress in the Republican Party were quickly replaced with attacks on her pregnant teenage daughter and self-righteous calls of hypocrisy. These were then replaced with guffaws at the candidate's interview and debate performances, her homespun style and colloquialisms eliciting disdainful smirks from her detractors. Add to this the recent Letterman saga and there's little wonder why 53% of Americans consider the media's coverage of Palin to be "unfairly negative". While the media may not understand her, her ability to identify with significant segments of the electorate or be able to recognized their own polarized caricaturization of her, it appears a significant number of voters can. And do. To some she is a dream, to others a nightmare, faithful readers. Stay tuned for further updates as events warrant and we see if Palin begins doing warm up laps around the country in preparation for the 2012 presidential marathon.