Sarah Palin has leveraged her brand well since exploding on the national scene in 2008, but since she recently lost her bully pulpit at Fox News, she may need to make another national run for office just to keep the Palin brand viable.
Palin still will make money giving speeches to Republican and conservative organizations, but without the national stage that her Fox News job provided, she is going to start fading from public consciousness. To keep being a household name in the minds of the vast majority of Americans who are not political junkies, she is going to have to make another national run.
This is exactly what Newt Gingrich did in 2012.
Gingrich was Speaker of the House in the early- and mid-1990s but then faded from view. Politics-watchers would see him pop up on various cable political shows, but he had been out of John Q. Public's consciousness for years. Gingrich ran for president in 2012 knowing he did not have a chance, but also knowing that the Republican presidential debates and the free election political coverage would make him a household name once again--and translate into more sales for his books and more paid public speaking appearances.
Look for Palin to be the Gingrich of 2014 and 2016. She will campaign for conservative candidates in 2014 to make contacts for a presidential run in 2016. That will be a two-year cycle of making the Palin brand more viable.
The result will be more Palin book sales and paid public appearances at the least, and depending on the 2016 Republican field, she could catch lightning in a bottle and make a legitimate run for the presidency. Gingrich probably did not expect to be a viable candidate in 2012, but the way the Republican primaries played out, he suddenly found himself vying with Mitt Romney for the nomination as a legitimate contender.
It was the lackluster Republican field that allowed Gingrich to make a viable 2012 run, and the GOP lineup may be no better in 2016. A similar weak lineup in 1980 allowed Ronald Reagan to ride out of the past and take the Republican nomination and the presidency.
The other Republican candidates and the Democrats took Reagan lightly at their own peril, and their 2016 counterparts would be wise not to make a similar mistake with Palin. Republicans have been looking for another Reagan since the Gipper left office, and it may just be Palin who stumbles into Reagan's shoes in 2016.
Palin may get into the race just looking for more book sales, but she's sure to catch a full-blown case of Potomac Fever if Republican voters in the early primaries start buying her message instead.