"I'm very happy to get to be here in Wasilla," Palin told ABC News early Saturday. "I'm in my hometown and looking forward to spending more time in my hometown."
The Wasilla crowd was hopeful of greater things to come for their local Republican heroine.
"I think Sarah should be president," said town resident Becca Buyse. "I think she would do a much better job. She has the people's interest."
Larry J. Sabato, the director of the University of Virginia Center for Politics, said that success is in the cards for the soon-to-be former governor.
"What's she heading to is a lot of money and continuing fame," he said. "So she's not giving up anything, she's gaining a great deal."
But an increasing number of people feel pessimistic about the self-proclaimed hockey mom: According to a recent ABC News/Washington Post poll, 40 percent of Americans hold a favorable opinion of her overall, down from a high of 58 percent. Fifty-four percent don't see her as a strong leader and 57 percent don't think she understands complex issues.
Her numbers shot up among Republicans, however: 70 percent view her positively.
Some political strategists still see a future for Palin in politics, should she choose to pursue one.
"I always thought Sarah Palin had very strong candidate skills, and I think if she wants to run for office there are clearly Republicans out there that like what they hear. She'll certainly have a receptive audience if she runs for office," said Republican strategist Terry Nelson, who has advised President George W. Bush and Sen. John McCain in the past.
Still, the current poll numbers are not insignificant, Sabato said.
"What's driving it is the resignation and all the controversy," he told ABC News. "Palin's become a grand soap opera that's playing out in places where a presidential candidate does not want to be."
Palin's bombshell July 3 announcement that she would quit as governor this Sunday, July 25, spurred speculation about a grassroots presidential run in 2012.
As the GOP wunderkind wraps up her abortive single term as governor, political analysts are scratching their heads over just what Palin is up to, and whether leaving public office could possibly improve her future electoral fortunes.
"This is a major blow to any presidential aspiration she may have, whether she recognizes it or not, because it's deadly," Sabato said of Palin's surprise resignation. "Her Republican opponents -- and a Democrat, if she's a nominee -- can say she up and quit."
Nevertheless, supporters say Palin, who already has a lucrative book contract in hand, has plenty of options.
"Her future is whatever she wants it to be," Republican strategist Carl Forti told ABC News. "If that's TV entertainment or politics. But running for president takes more than charisma. It's a hard road she can't do alone. If she intends to run she needs to build a team and get better educated on the issues."