For tens of millions of Americans, and not just Democrats, the scariest three words in the English language are: President Sarah Palin.Those words could, if events go a certain way, get a helluva lot scarier.I've noticed how Palin has been positioning herself as the "Christian woman" in national Republican politics. This gives her an incredible leg up in the first-in-the-country Iowa Republican caucuses, where the Reverend Pat Robertson once triumphed. The shape of the 2012 Republican presidential field in the Iowa caucuses would be Sarah Palin against a field of Republican men – with the possible exception of Mike Huckabee, all more secular than her.The results: The "Christian woman" beats out the four or five men running somewhere on her left. Nobody gets to her right, and, as long as nobody does, this lone woman in the Republican field – the one openly running as a religious fundamentalist – beats the competition hands down. Get this number into your head: Sarah Palin's latest Gallup Poll favorability rating among Republican voters is 76 percent, by far the highest of any contender.So she wins Iowa.Next, New Hampshire. Even if Mitt Romney outpolls Palin in the Granite State, it will be a fact dismissed by the national political press. Why? Because New Hampshire is in the Boston media market, and therefore is seen as home base for the former Massachusetts governor.Then, Palin trucks down to South Carolina, where she "made" Nikki Haley the Governor, and wins among fellow religious fundamentalists. Another victory in "Palin country" ... an increasingly wide expanse in Republican politics.Now for the knock-out. Palin has said that Michigan – where Romney's father was governor – was overlooked by Republicans last time. She started her book tour there. Republican women who lined up to buy "Going Rogue" are her first round of investors. With two or three men besides Romney still appearing on the ballot, she pulls it out in Michigan.Now, anything's possible. Nominated in Tampa in an economy that might be still be shaky, the political situation becomes frighteningly dicey.All I can say is that I remember how liberals thought Reagan could never do it. As we learned in 1980, tough times yield surprising – yes, scary – election prospects.