The numbers in David Carr's piece on Sarah Palin's brand are striking:
(1) 2 million people watched the first episode of her show, Real American Stories. That's about the same number who normally watch On the Record with Greta van Susteren, which Palin preempted.
(2) Going Rogue has sold 2.2 million copies.
(3) Palin will be paid a reported $1 million for eight episodes of "Sarah Palin's Alaska," a travelogue / documentary, on TLC.
(4) Palin's appearance on Oprah last fall to promote Going Rogue drew that show's highest ratings in two years.
(5) Palin has 1.5 million Facebook friends.
When Palin emerged on the scene in August 2008, she spoke as an authentic voice of non-coastal, upper-middle-class cultural conservatism. It was believable when she said, in her speech to the 2008 RNC, that she wasn't much different from your average hockey mom. Not anymore. In the years since, Palin's become something different -- a global celebrity who fuses politics and entertainment in new and startling and occasionally discomfiting ways. She's also become incredibly rich. But, as her personal wealth has increased, the number of people who think she is qualified to be president has decreased. The Palin brand is more and more powerful, but for a smaller group of people.
And those people matter. When Palin campaigned for John McCain recently, reporter Jeff Zeleny noted that "the roar of the crowd was for Ms. Palin. Her name appeared on T-shirts and buttons, with many of her supporters scooping up Palin 2012 merchandise as they waited for an autograph or a picture." A similar roar greeted her speech at the Searchlight, Nevada, Tea Party rally the next day. There simply isn't another figure in the Republican party who commands this sort of fervent and loyal support.
Critics will criticize. Democrats will attack. But Palin may have found her niche as the cult figure who mobilizes conservatives and conservative-leaning independents to the barricades. And as she's said, she doesn't need an office to progress this movement.
Lucky for her, it's also extremely lucrative.