THE STABILITY OF THE TICKET.... The New York Times had an item today about the various questions swirling around Sarah Palin, and reported, "Gov. Mark Sanford of South Carolina said that he had heard no discussion about removing Ms. Palin from the ticket."
The interesting thing about that isn't the response, which was predictable, but the fact that Sanford was asked the question in the first place.
To be sure, the notion that John McCain would switch running mates just two months before Election Day seems very farfetched. The only modern precedent is Tom Eagleton, and that a) was 36 years ago; and b) didn't turn out well for the Democratic ticket.
Nevertheless, campaign reporters have begun at least asking about Palin's future, and as Josh Marshall noted, the futures markets apparently find the question interesting, as well.
As some of you know I keep an eye on the political futures markets at Intrade.com. And I've been wondering whether they'd open a contract on whether Sarah Palin would make it to November, let alone the White House. And sure enough, here it is. Still a long shot at 15% odds of it happening. But up 12 points so far today.
The trading has been up and down today, but more important than the number is the fact that this is a subject worthy of Intrade in the first place.
Is McCain likely to switch running mates? No. It would take a lot more than "I'd like to spend more time with my family" to help justify a political catastrophe of this magnitude, and McCain would no doubt be loath to admit making this big a mistake.
What's more, given that Republican donors and the hardcore religious right activists are thrilled with Palin joining the ticket, McCain would face enormous institutional pressure to keep her, unless there's a complete collapse in the polls, which seems highly unlikely.
But it's worth watching how this unfolds. If McCain drops Palin, it's a disaster for the Republican Party (unless there's someone truly extraordinary waiting in the wings). If McCain keeps Palin, he runs the risk of having a series of increasingly embarrassing revelations come out slowly between now and November.
Either way, McCain's judgment couldn't look much worse.