Green Room

Could Perry stage a comeback?

posted at 11:34 am on December 4, 2011 by

Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour seems to think so:

Q: Is it becoming clear that Mitt Romney will emerge as the Republican nominee?

A: I don’t think it’s clear. I think people make the mistake of writing off Rick Perry and believe he can’t come back. He’s got a mountain to get over, but I don’t think it’s impossible. Both Newt and Romney have a lot of support, but I don’t think it’s a two-man race. I think Perry could get back in it with Gingrich and Romney. I can’t look you in the eye and say nobody else can come up. You’ve got to learn your lesson this year not to say that about anybody.

Coincidentally, this subject came up a day or so earlier on Twitter, in a conversation involving Allahpundit, blogger Karol Markowicz, fundraiser/adviser Nathan Wurtzel and me. AP, skeptical of a possible comeback, asked me what I thought Perry would have to do to get back into contention.

I think the first and most difficult step is for Perry to stop being a bad candidate. He has gotten a bit better under the radar, but needs to continue to improve.

If Perry does improve, he may stand a shot at placing third in the Iowa caucuses. The new Des Moines Register poll has Perry near the bottom at six percent, but the poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.9 percentage points. PPP has a poll in the field in Iowa and teases that Perry appears to be in double digits.

The Register poll shows more respondents choose Gingrich as their second choice than any other candidate. However, Perry could benefit not only from Herman Cain’s collapse, but also from lingering doubts about Gingrich.

In Iowa, the doubts will primarily come from the religious right. In past cycles, social conservatives ensured victories for candidates like Pat Robertson and Mike Huckabee. This year, there is no consensus candidate.

Newt — he of the serial infidelities and divorces — bought himself some goodwill with some religious conservatives by pouring $150,000 into the successful 2010 campaign to oust three Iowa Supreme Court judges after the state’s high court struck down a state ban on same-sex marriage. But even that support has proved controversial among social cons in Iowa. And Newt probably did not help himself with them by telling Jake Tapper human life begins at implantation rather than conception.

Michelle Bachmann also hurt herself recently with this demographic by gaining access to the email database of a group of parents who homeschool their children in Iowa and sending them two unsolicited email blasts. Nor does there appear to be any groundswell in Iowa for Rick Santorum.

Perry seems to have figured all of this out; his latest ad is aimed squarely at religious conservatives. If Perry climbs back into third place (or at least ties it with Ron Paul) in Iowa, he has a shot at maintaining a viable campaign. There is the traditional spin about there being three tickets out of Iowa and Perry — like Romney and Gingrich — is blessed by his rivals. Conservative voters are looking for a viable NotRomney, and while they are currently flocking to Gingrich, all the polling suggests his support (like those for his rivals) remains soft.

NotRomney voters may also be looking for an insurance policy, given Gingrich’s demonstrated propensity to implode. Indeed, Gingrich looked as though he had his final implosion just a few months ago. And if Newt can make a comeback, it is possible that Perry could do the same. But it’s not likely unless Perry continues to improve his campaign over the next month.

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I think the first and most difficult step is for Perry to stop being a bad candidate. He has gotten a bit better under the radar, but needs to continue to improve.

“Under the radar” isn’t a good way to run a campaign if the object is actually to get people to like you.

gryphon202 on December 4, 2011 at 12:00 PM

Newt supports ethanol subsidies, and made $330k lobbying for it. Perry is against ethanol subsidies, which hurts him in Iowa.

Beyond Iowa though, I can’t see how support for the DC insider Newt will be sustained. In almost every way he’s the opposite of what the base has been clamoring for over the last two years.

juliesa on December 4, 2011 at 12:12 PM

gryphon202,

Most candidates who get good do so under the radar, early in a cycle. In contrast, Perry made a splashy late entry, which didn’t serve him well at all.

Karl on December 4, 2011 at 12:21 PM

Lets hope so.

catmman on December 4, 2011 at 12:26 PM

Fair assessment. Perry should have the money to last until South Carolina. If he has hired Cain staffers, that may diffuse lingering bitterness Cainiacs feel over unproven allegations that Perry helped sabotage their candidate. I believe Perry is the most manifestly conservative candidate we have with the accomplishments to match.

Due to unforced errors, Romney had a bad week, second only to Cain. Not only is Mitt widely seen as no longer inevitable, but he seems to have an off-putting sense of entitlement to the nomination. His main selling point appears to be the ability to double talk around significant flaws in his record. Do we really want to nominate our own gifted liar a la Clinton who is certain to disappoint the conservative base?

Gingrich is best suited to a research and development environment where he can freely indulge his passion for brainstorming. In the White House, these talents are usually reserved for advisors . However, his compulsion to talk about everything means he would be an exhausting public speaker like our camera-loving incumbent but without Obama’s reputed likeabilty. Notice how Newt’s smile is thin and never reaches his eyes, which is nothing compared to his flexible, ever evolving definition of conservatism and proclivity to self-sabotage.

Another Perry selling point is that he probably won’t be in front of TV cameras and microphones anywhere near as much as Obama and Gingrich would. Just a wild guess!

Terrie on December 4, 2011 at 12:27 PM

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Allahpundit on December 4, 2011 at 5:52 PM