"Maybe she's just tired of all the drama and simply wants to stop the madness surrounding her," Republican operative Mark McKinnon, who coached Palin during the campaign, recently wrote in the blog The Daily Beast.
One major deficit the former beauty queen, sports reporter and Wasilla mayor would have to overcome in any future electoral bid would be the perception of her leadership. Just 40 percent see her as a strong leader -- compared to 71 percent for President Obama -- and 54 percent do not see her as a strong leader.
But despite those troubles, Palin still fares well in perceptions by Republicans, 70 percent of whom view her positively, compared with 40 percent of independents and 20 percent of Democrats. Among Republicans and Republican-leaning independents voicing an early preference for the 2012 presidential nomination, 26 percent in the ABC News/Washington Post poll favor former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, 21 percent prefer former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, and 19 percent back Palin.
The telephone poll, carried out July 15-18, 2009 among a random national sample of 1,001 adults, had a 3.5-point margin of error.
Amid all of the speculation and the negative turn in the public's perception of her, the real truth surrounding her final weekend as governor is that Palin herself is the only person who truly knows what's in store for her future.
"Maybe she wants to focus on her family. Maybe she may wants to make a lot of money giving speeches. Maybe she wants to host her own TV show. Maybe she wants to start a Barry Goldwater-like movement. And maybe she wants to run for President in 2012. Or, maybe she's got a boyfriend in Argentina," McKinnon quipped. "Only one thing is for sure when it comes to Palin: There is more to come. Probably much more."
ABC's Devin Dwyer contributed to this report.