Rick Perry has not performed well in the GOP debates. And GOP “opinion leaders” have been piling on. Bill Kristol of the Weekly Standard called his most recent performance almost “disqualifying,” and Erick Erickson of RedState.org described him as a “horrible debater.” So is he dead yet? Not even close. Nate Silver explains:
Although Mr. Romney’s performance was well regarded, a significant number of Republican voters — and a significant number of these commentators — are not yet satisfied that he is sufficiently conservative to be their nominee. They may vote for him eventually, but probably not without a fight.
For the time being, Mr. Perry remains by far the most viable alternative to Mr. Romney. He will not be given an infinite amount of rope to hang himself with, and he will need to perform better in future debates. It is reasonably likely that his polls will take a near-term hit. But given the lack of appreciable momentum for any of the other candidates — and that all of them had been polling in the single digits — Mr. Perry will probably get a second and perhaps even a third look before one of them has the chance to emerge as the consensus alternative to Mr. Romney. In the parlance of the bond rating agencies, it is appropriate to put Mr. Perry’s campaign on a “negative outlook,” but it is a little early for a full downgrade.
UPDATE: The foregoing was published before Herman Cain trounced Perry in the Florida caucus. Time for a full downgrade now, Nate?