Andrew Davis, [the ex-governor’s] adviser, saw the Palins off, and I met him for coffee later that morning in Midtown Manhattan. Davis is a personable and quick-witted 33-year-old Massachusetts native who was a deputy campaign manager forand in 2004 and later an opposition researcher for the before working with Palin at the close of the 2008 campaign. He’s nonetheless low-profile in the extreme, like all of Palin’s senior associates. (The New York Times Magazine’s photo editors had been trying to find an image of Davis; he assured me that they would not succeed.) Davis and his colleagues recognize that the issue of trust informs Sarah Palin’s every dealing with the world beyond Wasilla since her circular-firing-squad experience at the close of the 2008 presidential campaign. Her inner circle shuns the media and would speak to me only after Palin authorized it, a process that took months. They are content to labor in a world without hierarchy or even job descriptions — “None of us has titles,” Davis said — and where the adhesive is a personal devotion to Palin rather than the furtherance of her political career.
Davis’s main task this year had been serving as Palin’s point man throughout the endorsement process. He was now tallying her midterm scorecard, which at the time was 50 wins and 32 losses (with 8 not yet decided), including victories by 14 so-called mama grizzly Republican candidates. Some of Palin’s picks were early, bold and pivotal, as in the case of, who is now South Carolina’s governor-elect. Other picks — like those for Tim Scott (South Carolina’s first Republican African-American congressman in more than a century) and (the incoming senator from Florida and a rising G.O.P. star on par with Palin) — came too late to be consequential except, perhaps, to her own ambitions. Palin also raised more than $10 million for Republican candidates and committees — including the Republican National Committee, which plastered her image on the center of its Web page at the close of the election cycle. Having crawled from the wreckage of the 2008 presidential campaign and her much-derided resignation as governor of Alaska, Sarah Palin had emerged as arguably the most captivating and influential Republican in America — and therefore a viable contender for the presidential nomination in 2012.
So I asked her political adviser whether there would be a summoning of the troops in the coming days to discuss what the next moves will be. Davis laughed and replied, “That’s not going to happen.” Each of them, he said, would simply be doing the work that was in front of them that day, the way things always operated in Palin World. I brought up an ABC News/Washington Post poll taken three weeks before, which concluded that Palin’s favorability rating among registered voters stood at 39 percent, while 54 percent viewed her unfavorably and a whopping 67 percent saw her as unqualified to be president. “On a staff level, we all think about ways we can improve her numbers,” Davis said. “It’s politics — that’s our job.” But, I pressed, had he discussed the subject with her? “I’m not going to sit around and ask her, ‘What do you think of your approval rating?’ ” Davis said. “I’m just not.” Then he added, “Maybe the family’s talked about it.”
“I am,” Sarah Palin told me the next day when I asked her if she was already weighing a run for president. “I’m engaged in the internal deliberations candidly, and having that discussion with my family, because my family is the most important consideration here.” Palin went on to say that there weren’t meaningful differences in policy among the field of G.O.P. hopefuls “but that in fact there’s more to the presidency than that” and that her decision would involve evaluating whether she could bring unique qualities to the table.