Debate fallout: The door opens for Perry, and possibly closes for Palin

The comparison between Ms. Bachmann and Sarah Palin is perhaps made too easily. But as I remarked on Twitter during the debate, if there is a constituency of voters trying to decide between the two, Ms. Bachmann has a lot to offer. She’s considerably sharper on her feet than Ms. Palin, and has more discipline. She does not have the baggage of “blood libel,” a reality show, or having prematurely quit her term as governor. Her family story — a mother to 23 foster children, as she frequently reminded us — is every bit as compelling. She has considerably better favorability ratings — Americans who are familiar with her split about evenly on whether they like her or not, which is not true for Ms. Palin. She has a geographic advantage in Iowa, has devoted more time to her presidential campaign and has a reputation as a strong fundraiser.

That is not to say that Ms. Palin will necessarily engage in such a careful analysis when she decides whether or not to run for president. But it’s possible that she’s missed her moment — whether or not she decides to run. Rather than being a proxy for Ms. Palin, Ms. Bachmann may instead be preferred to her in the eyes of Republican voters…

Given that Mr. Pawlenty is treading water in polls — moving up in some, but stagnant in others despite several candidates having dropped out of the field — Republican elites may be wondering whether he will “click” with voters and whether he is fact up to the task of taking on Mr. Romney and fulfilling Mr. Buckley’s rule. If Mr. Perry can instead play the role of “generic Republican” — only with better hair and more fundraising prowess — their support could shift toward him.