The proceedings of the Campaign Decision Makers Conference were off the record until noon Monday, when the institute released audio of the sessions. Here are some factors that changed the course of the race and possibly even of history.

A Fateful Immigration Detour. Top Romney strategist Stuart Stevens “fell in love” with Perry’s book, Fed Up, in which he described Social Security as a Ponzi scheme, according to Romney campaign manager Matt Rhoades. Romney went after Perry’s Social Security stand from the left and Perry was “badly hurt” by the third debate, Rhoades said. He added, “In retrospect, I believe that we could have probably just beaten Gov. Perry with the Social Security hit.” …

Straw Poll Circus. Pawlenty bet his campaign on the August 2011 Iowa straw poll, only to come in a distant third — behind Reps. Michele Bachmann and Ron Paul – and drop out the next day. If he had skipped the straw poll, he might have gone all the way to the nomination or the White House. Until Perry got into the race, “we were most worried about Tim Pawlenty,” Rhoades said. He said Pawlenty’s retail campaign skills could have won him Iowa and New Hampshire, and “we had respect” for his jobs record as governor of Minnesota.