The EFM Feature
cowboy boots, from Flickr user princess toadie, used under a Creative Commons license

Is Rick Perry’s polling lead fading?  The Washington Post’s Jen Rubin takes note:

As I wrote yesterday, there are plenty of reasons to be skeptical of national polling early in a presidential primary. But direction does matter. When Fred Thompson’s national poll numbers started diving in 2007 after a splashy entrance, many conservatives figured he was a flash in the pan. Donors recognized that as well. Conversely when Barack Obama started eating into Hillary Clinton’s huge lead in the polls Democrats started taking him seriously, and endorsements and money soon followed.

When Texas Gov. Rick Perry entered the GOP primary more than a month ago, he quickly soared to double-digit leads in all of the national polls. The last three polls — Bloomberg (4 points), ABC/Washington Post (6 points) and Gallup/USA Today (7 points) — show his lead has shrunk considerably.

Late arriving “savior” candidates enjoy a great advantage and a related disadvantage.  The advantage is that they’re immediately able to vacuum up that portion of the electorate that’s hungry for something else, for the “true conservative” to come in and carry the day. As a result, they can leapfrog over candidates who’ve already spent months (and millions of dollars) on the campaign trail.

The disadvantage is that savior status carries with it a huge load of expectations.  Yet invariably the new arrival is a real-live human being, with flaws, quirks, and a tainted record.  Fred Thompson had a pro-choice past.  Rick Perry has the state DREAM Act, the HPV vaccine, and a number of other issues.  Stylistically, Fred Thompson wasn’t as charismatic as people hoped, while Perry hasn’t exactly stormed the stage in the debates.

As Rubin notes, there’s more than enough time for Perry to get his mojo back:

But Perry could arrest any erosion and, in fact, reinforce his front-runner status if he did several things. First and foremost, he could stop the nerve-jangling in the GOP by coming out with common sense, effective entitlement reforms. He’d also be showing leadership since his main rivals haven’t done that. Second, he should, while it is still early, start, figuratively, clearing out the garbage littering his path to the nomination. That means addressing financial issues and renouncing silly recommendations in his book (e.g. allowing states to legalize pot). It’s easier to do it now than when his opponents start airing attack ads, as they surely will. Third, he needs to turn in an impressive debate speech in which he has polished answers, not one-liners, to important questions. If he gives another poor performance, the doubts about his candidacy will escalate. And finally, he should stop hiding from the media. Do some Sunday talk shows. Sit down with a national newspaper’s editorial board. Take questions regularly on the stump. If he doesn’t, others will set the narrative.

I especially agree that he needs to turn it up a notch in debates.  A truly outstanding debate performance would virtually by itself reverse his erosion in the polls.  When we watch the debates, we’re looking for the candidate who can stand on that stage and go toe to toe with Obama.  That means he’s got to provide substantive answers, delivered with confidence (but not cockiness), and he’s got to be able to deflect attacks with more ease than he has so far.

If he can master the debates, he reverses his polling trend.  If he can’t, then the road gets rocky indeed.


Comments and Discussion

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6 Responses to Dated Rick, Married Mitt?

  1. frozone says:

    Do we really want a president that hasn’t learned how to debate? Really, this is a key skill. To be able to articulate a position, and sway those to same, is that not the essence of effective and successful leadership? How do we expect a President Perry to magically lead in Washington when there is no evidence of same in his past record.

    Romney has successfully led in much more difficult circumstances than Perry, proof that he has this skill, and that’s what the debates have demonstrated.

    One good performance from Perry (I don’t think he’s capable of a great performance) will not change my mind on this issue. We have a better choice.

    • ccr says:

      America foolishly voted in a man who “orated” “well” from a teleprompter. His experience, idealogy were not scrutinized well.

      Surely the GOP, for the primary, will NOT do the same by electing a man who has some one-liners, some tough talking but no depth of thought and plan.

      Surely, the GOP, the conservatives, the TeaParty, the religious are doing some critical analysis of facts, not just emotion.

      • berbs says:

        Mainstream media keeps saying that Obama is a great orator, but I have never liked his speeches and I have never understood why others say that he is great at speaking. I could listen to Ronald Reagan or Mitt Romney all day, but Obams’s speeches are nothing but hot air. Joe Biden, Al Gore, and Obama are almost equally torturous to listen to. I think we should send them to Gitmo and have them question the detainees. Oh, wait, that would be considered cruel and unusual punishment.

  2. john petersen says:

    To me there seams to be a foney side an acting uncinceer side to Perry. I bont think he is as cinceer as some think. I believe he will fall in the poles. When people realize this about him and his real standing on kee issues like illegal imagrashon and s s.

  3. Michelle says:

    It’s disturbing to me to think that a good performance by Rick Perry in one or two debates could cause people to overlook or ignore his personal and political moral failings. They are serious.

    There are countless recorded examples of pay-for-play crony politics — so many examples of money & favors mattering much more than principles. There’s his endorsement in 2008 of pro-choice, pro-gay rights, pro-sanctuary cities, Rudy Guilinai over genuine conservatives in the race. There’s the 2001 speech with Mexico’s President Fox where he called for open borders and shared healthcare. There’s his attendance at Bilderberg. Many govenors have been invited and declined, including Ronald Regan who said in so many words, “I don’t attend secret meeting.” The HPV vaccine which combined the worst of big government intrusion, with personal negligence, and cronyism.

    My intention is not to be “hard” on Rick Perry, but to say that we need to wake up and do some vetting, because Obams surely will. Perhaps Rick Perry is the kind of man my daddy wouldn’t have let me date… let alone marry.

  4. Rex says:

    Like others, I was surprised by seeing Rick Perry inability to perform in the debates. Two things stood out:

    (1) he had this “deer in the headlights” look on several questions. For example, when Senator Santorum raised the obvious question about providing in-state tuition to illegals, as NOT being the same as blocking illegals from attending college, Perry seemed frozen without the ability to respond. My impression is that he came up with a lame answer that attempted to cast aspersions on the “cold heart” of someone who would challenge his decision. It was infuriating to watch.

    (2) Perry’s attempt to cast aspersions on the “cold hearts” of those who would deny in-state tuition to illegals could have been taken from the talking points of my Looney Tunes Senator Barbara Boxer. I recall a meeting she held in San Francisco with illegals, telling them about their “rights” under the Constitution for this and that, as if these law breakers and citizens of a foreign country had the same rights as American citizens. Perry’s Boxer-like answer on the “cold hearts” for those who oppose in-state tuition makes it clear to me that he is not a true conservative, which is further confirmed by his refusal to support a building of the fence on the southern border.

    Rex

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