Palin Emerges with Even More Clout

Most of the candidates Sarah Palin endorsed chalked up victories Tuesday.

And that scorecard leaves pundits wondering whether she'll now train her sights directly on the Republican presidential nomination in 2012.

As CBS News Correspondent Jeff Glor reports, .the former GOP vice presidential nominee backed 43 candidates for the House. Thirty of them won, with races involving nine others still undecided.

All Election 2010 Results

Her record in Senate races was closer: She endorsed 12 candidates. Seven won.

Though it's been 15 months since Palin stepped down as Alaska governor, she was very much in this election, stumping for candidates across the country, skewering President Obama at every turn.

"My observation of Sarah Palin," says CBS News political analyst Nicolle Wallace, "is that she is one of the shrewdest political figures in our country at this moment. She's also one of the most electric."

Of all the races Palin got involved with, perhaps the most personal was in her home state of Alaska. Her backing of Tea Party favorite Joe Miller propelled him to the ballot in a primary for Senate and past incumbent Republican Lisa Murkowski, whose father Palin beat to become governor.

Murkowski ran as a write-in candidate. The outcome of that highly unusual race could take days to determine.

"When the results come in," says Politico National Political Editor Charles Mahtesian, "I think people will look at that and see that as a reflection of her clout, because she played such an enormous role in defining the terms of that race."

Among the winners Palin endorsed: Nikki Haley for governor of South Carolina, Pat Toomey for Senate in Pennsylvania, and John Boozman for Senate, in Arkansas.

All year, Palin and re-elected Sen. Jim DeMint of South Carolina were kingmakers in the Tea Party court, supporting winning candidates such as Rand Paul for Senate in Kentucky.

There were some losses, too. In Delaware, Tea Partier Christine O'Donnell was forced to spend part of her campaign convincing voters she wasn't a witch.

But overall, Glor observes, Palin seemed very pleased, punctuating a big night by tweeting, "As always, proud to be American! Thanks, Commonsense Constitutional Conservatives, u didn't sit down & shut up... u 'refudiated" extreme left." '

Asked on "Entertainment Tonight" last week whether she'd run for president, Plain said she would, if there's nobody esle to do it.

And on "The Early Show" Wednesday, DeMint was asked if he could see a Palin-DeMint or DeMint-Palin ticket in 2012.

"I agree with her," DeMint responded. "I would only consider if no one else was willing to do it at this point. Sarah Palin's done a lot of good for the country. She's gone out front and taken a lot of the slings and arrows from the critics. When women or minorities get involved in politics as conservatives, they take a lot of hits from the press. And she's done a lot of good for the Republican Party, and for our country."
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