Barring very strange events, neither Sarah Palin nor Hillary Clinton will be the 44th President of the United States. But each of them, I strongly suspect, harbors the ambition to be the 45th President. They might even face off. And one of them could well prevail.
Palin and Clinton could hardly be further apart in ideological terms. Yet they have very palpably excited the same, significant plurality of American voters — a bloc of mostly white, overwhelmingly female voters strewn across some of the most hotly contested states in any race to 270 electoral votes. Ideas matter, one must grudgingly admit, but personality and the emotional connection between candidates and their voters may matter even more. Whatever its eventual outcome, the 2008 presidential campaign has demonstrated that candidates and parties ignore Palin/Clinton voters at their peril.