Continued from page 1

She said friends of hers who knew Mrs. Palin sought an endorsement on her behalf and that she learned of it, shortly before everyone else, with a call from Mrs. Palin. (At first, “It was more me just thinking, ‘Is this really Sarah Palin?’ Then I heard the cadence of her (speech) and I knew.”)

Mrs. Palin’s endorsement is “the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval for conservatives,” said Julie Soderlund, a Fiorina spokeswoman. But the campaign has yet to decide whether it will seek Mrs. Palin’s help in the fall, when independents and Democrats will be listening.

Even in Republican primaries, it is difficult to gauge the impact of Mrs. Palin’s help.

Three of the four contenders whom she endorsed in last week’s round of primaries won, including front-runners Mr. Brandstad and Mrs. Fiorina.

Mrs. Palin campaigned for the third, South Carolina state Rep. Nikki Haley, who scored an unexpected first-place finish in the gubernatorial primary and will compete in a runoff on June 22.

“We need change,” said Peggy Brooks, 43, an accountant who voted for Mrs. Haley. While Ms. Brooks considered Mrs. Palin’s support important, she said her vote was motivated more by a desire to stand up against attacks on Mrs. Haley’s character during the race.

Mrs. Haley faced unproven allegations of an affair. Those claims caused Sara Perry, 63, to change her vote from Mrs. Haley. Too bad, too: “I love Sarah Palin,” Ms. Perry said.

Mrs. Palin campaigned for Mrs. Haley in South Carolina, one of the few candidates she’s taken to the road for. Her involvement turned off A.J. Dance.

He was torn between Mrs. Haley and Democrat Vincent Sheheen, but “when Sarah Palin showed up, I was like, no,” the unemployed 24-year-old from Columbia, S.C., said. “She’s poison.”

And some endorsements seem more personal than business.

Mrs. Palin endorsed long-shot candidate Joe Miller in his effort to unseat Sen. Lisa Murkowski, Alaska Republican and a member of the Senate GOP leadership who would fit Mrs. Palin’s definition of “mama grizzlies.”

“You don’t want to mess with moms who are rising up,” Mrs. Palin said at the Susan B. Anthony List event last month. “If you thought pit bulls were tough, you don’t want to mess with mama grizzlies.”

Mrs. Palin trounced Mrs. Murkowski’s father in the gubernatorial primary in 2006. Mrs. Murkowski challenged Mrs. Palin’s widely debunked claims last year about “death panels” in the health care bill.

Like other potential presidential candidates, Mrs. Palin has donated to Republicans. As of the end of March, her political action committee had given $55,000 to candidates and committees, including Kentucky GOP Senate candidate Rand Paul and Vaughn Ward, an Idaho House hopeful who lost to a “tea party” favorite last month.

Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s Freedom First PAC gave $43,600 by March 31. Mitt Romney leads the way, however, as his Free and Strong America PAC gave $147,572 over a period ending in April.

Story Continues →