Nate Silver on how Perry’s debate stumbles have affected the GOP primary race:
There have been three scientific national polls released of Republican voters since the Sept. 22 debate: a CNN poll that was conducted over the last weekend, and polls by Fox News and Economist/YouGov released on Wednesday.
The polls suggest that Rick Perry’s struggles in the debate — amplified by a storm of skepticism among influential Republicans — have taken a bite out of his numbers. But the spoils seem to have gone mainly to other conservative candidates in the race, rather than Mr. Romney.
. . . [Y]ou have a candidate in Mr. Romney who has run a very good campaign, who has performed well in the debates, and who leads in fund-raising and endorsements — but who is still barely above 20 percent in surveys, and has made only marginal gains as a number of his rivals have stumbled.
Mr. Romney has emerged — or re-emerged — as the favorite; I’d give him roughly even odds of winning the nomination. But it’s unlikely to be a smooth and linear path, and the alternate hypothesis that Republican voters are determined to pick someone more conservative than him has some support in this data.