Sarah Palin is gauging her political support in Iowa for a prospective 2012 presidential bid, according to a report in RealClearPolitics.com.
Palin has maintained a relatively low political profile in the early-nominating state, according to the report, and many top Republicans had taken her lack of a presence there as a sign that she did not intend to run.
But SarahPAC adviser Andy Davis told RealClearPolitics that "the idea that we're not in Iowa is inaccurate."
A top Iowa Tea Party source also confirmed to ReaClearPolitics that people associated with SarahPAC have been in contact with Iowa political operatives - though her initial approach appears to be less aggressive than than that of some other potential candidates, who have already scoped out local political operatives and installed staffers on the ground.
"I know of three of four people in Iowa who have had contact with Palin's aides," the Iowa Tea Party official said.
Recent polls show Palin's current favorability levels as particularly low - some hitting 30 percent - in light of this month's shootings in Tucson, Arizona, which inspired a heated national debate about the tone and content of current political rhetoric. (Palin has been criticized for some of her campaign tactics, including a map invoking the use of what appear to be crosshairs targeting vulnerable Democrats including Tucson victim Gabrielle Giffords.)
And in the aftermath of the tragedy, some have wondered at Palin's ability to deal with a crisis on a national level.
"I think she's got to slow down, and be a lot more careful, and think through what she's saying and how she's saying it," former GOP House Speaker Newt Gingrich said of Palin in a television appearance this week. (Gingrich, notably, is also considering a presidential run.)
But a new Washington Post/ABC News poll indicates that Palin continues to rank among the top Republican contenders for the 2012 presidential nomination: In a survey of Republican-leaning respondents, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, Sarah Palin and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney led the field, with 21 percent, 19 percent, and 17 percent support respectively.
Palin and Huckabee did particularly well among non-college-educated white voters, as well as voters with family incomes of $50,000 or less. Romney, meanwhile, performed best among the college-educated whites making over $50,000 a year, and whites with college degrees.
And whether or not Palin decides to run for president, she has made it clear that she feels little pressure to follow the conventional political rule-book: "I will continue to speak out. They're not going to shut me up," she, of liberals, in a Monday night interview on Fox News.