Since Thursday night’s Republican presidential candidate debate, what passes for the GOP “intelligentsia” has been really, really down on Rick Perry. In fact, I haven’t heard anyone on the Right say anything positive about him for a couple of days.
So does this spell the end of his front runner status? Perry is campaigning hard to win the Florida straw poll being held today, and if he pulls it out we might see a whole lot of backtracking.
Mr. Perryâ€™s Intrade contract has been bid down substantially since Thursday nightâ€™s debate. Going into the evening, bettors gave him roughly a 36 percent chance of winning the Republican nomination. Now, his odds are all the way down to 26 percent.
I understand that Mr. Perry had a poor evening on Thursday night. But that seems like an awfully strong reaction to it â€” probably an overreaction.
Nate points out that only a small part of eventual Republican primary voters watched the Thursday night debate, and also that Perry’s standing in the polls hasn’t changed significantly in several weeks. But the most telling thing was that while most of the rightie pundits agreed that Perry bombed in the debate, there was no consensus among them about who won.
Mr. Kristol, for instance, was so dismayed by the performance of Mr. Perry and the other candidates that he called for New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie to enter the race. Mr. Erickson said he thought Herman Cain performed well. Byron York of the Washington Examiner declared Rick Santorum to be the winner.
Nate thinks that unless and until the bobbleheads reach a consensus on who the front runner should be, and fall in line to support the anointed one, their influence on public opinion will be minimal. And everyone but Perry and Romney are polling in single digits.
My question is, are rank-and-file Republican primary voters paying any more attention to what the likes of Kristol, Erickson or York are saying than they are to the content of the debates themselves? Today’s straw poll might tell us something. Although the straw poll by itself may not mean much, if Perry shows he’s still got some Big Mo with the rank-and-file, you might see some genuine panic set in among the bobbleheads. They might even be spooked enough to fall in behind someone else they seem to universally loathe — Mitt Romney.