Governor Sarah Palin resigned from her post because she could no longer do the job she was elected to do. Her enemies had tied her and her administration in knots with frivolous lawsuits and FOI requests. Her family was going bankrupt and there was no prospect that the onslaught would cease. In my opinion, a contributing factor was that her governing coalition of centrist Democrats and renegade Republicans broke when the Democrats lined up behind the Obama administration. She resigned, handing off power to her Lieutenant Governor. In doing so, she knew full well that her political career might be over.
Governor John Huntsman resigned as Governor of Utah to serve as President Obama’s ambassador to China. He had only served a few months of his second term before throwing his lot in with a then popular Democrat President. He was unpopular with the Tea Party folk in Utah. Huntsman likely feared for his future in Utah, a fear borne out when Senator Bob Bennett later lost his primary. Huntsman’s resignation smells of opportunism. Perhaps he believed serving Obama would burnish his credentials as a moderate.
Illinois Senator Barack Obama arrived in the US Senate in January, 2005. After serving the first two years of his Senate term, he started a run for President. He effectively deserted the Senate from early in 2007 until he won the Presidency and resigned from the Senate. This graph, from GovTrack, shows how many Senate votes he missed.
“The lower dotted line shows the median value for all Members of Congress in that time period. The upper dotted line shows the 90th percentile.”
In effect, Senator Obama deserted his post as junior senator from Illinois while he ran. He should have resigned when it proved that running for President precluded him from carrying out his duties. Likewise, Hillary Clinton deserted her post for a similar period.
I leave it to the reader to decide which politician chose the most honorable course.