My election prediction is that Sarah Palin's political campaign may come to increasingly regret an image posted on her Facebook website, an image that may haunt her presidential ambitions. While we have yet to learn the particular motives of the gunman, Palin had published a map of America depicting target seats putting them in crosshairs. This map can be found here. There is more here. This map had Rep Gabrielle Gifford's seat in the crosshairs. Yesterday, a gunman shot her and, thankfully, she has survived.
Rep. Gifford had commented on being targetted by Palin in this way, noting that such images may have "consequences" and clearly expresses concern. (The video can be found here.) Her concerns seem substantiated. Palin has already issues a statement here about the shooting and House Republicans -- who had planned to begin a repeal of health care reform this week -- have postponed these plans for at least this week in response.
Palin may have originally welcomed the pro-hunting, gun friendly image of the moose lovin' Alaskan rugged individualist on the frontier, but posting images of opponents in crosshiars -- opponents who are within a year shot at public events (and this is not the first time persons have been found with a gun at Rep Gifford's events) with at least six pronounced dead --- is not evidence of good political judgement.
I am unsure how much her popularity may fade amongst supporters. Often politics is like sports: we identify with a team and stick with them through thick and thin. I suspect many supporters may not be as worried as they should be about the political fortunes of their heroine. However, I suspect instead that political opinion on Palin will further polarize with her "positive" numbers remaining constant or dropping slightly, but "negative" numbers increasing and hardening.
They say the image of Michael Dukakis in a tank damaged his future political fortunes. I suspect Palin's crosshairs is the image that has seriously damaged her future political fortunes. Will Palin run for president? No. You heard it here first . . . . . .
UPDATE: Now we learn that an arrest has been made following a number of alleged threats against a second Democrat politician, this time a Senator in Colorado. Details here.