But if the former Alaska governor and vice-presidential candidate's maiden trip to the Hawkeye State as a presidential prospect was unusual by Iowa precedent, the event illustrated why she doesn't necessarily need to stick to the traditional playbook – and raised the possibility that even sacrosanct political dictums of Iowa can be bent or even broken ... What makes her potentially so formidable was on vivid display in the hundreds of admirers who waited for hours on the ground in a mall hallway – and some began the vigil overnight in the bitter cold - to get a quickly scribbled signature, handshake and fleeting glimpse at the person most just called "Sarah." Though some wearing Cornhusker red came from Nebraska, just over the Missouri River, many were from this city and the surrounding northwest Iowa counties that traditionally give Republican candidates some of their largest margins in the state. But they weren't the sort of party regulars who comprise the county GOP committees and always show up when a national politician comes to town. Many said they hadn't previously participated in the state's quadrennial caucuses and some indicated that they weren't even sure what the caucuses are. And while most were self-identified conservatives, there were also registered Republicans or independents who had previously backed candidates of both parties but who were drawn to Palin because of what she represents.
At Bloomberg, John McCormick provides some statistical context:
An Iowa Poll taken Nov. 8-11 by the Des Moines Register newspaper showed 68 percent of Iowa Republicans view Palin favorably. That is almost as high as the 70 percent favorability recorded for former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, who won the state’s 2008 Republican presidential caucuses. The poll has a margin of error of 4.2 percentage points.