To Sabato, the salvo from Palin provided evidence that the Republican contest was far from decided. He expressed doubts, however, that Palin or other Perry opponents would make much headway with the “crony capitalism” charge.

“People are cynical,” he said. “Basically, people expect a certain level of corruption from all high officials. After all, you can go through and name probably 200 individuals that Obama has appointed who gave him big contributions. People shrug their shoulders and say ‘everybody does it.’ ”

Sheila Krumholz, director of the bipartisan Center for Responsive Politics which tracks campaign finance issues, agreed that Perry is “helped by the fact that this is the system by which all candidates raise money and the system in which they operate.”

However, she added, “I do think there are lines in the sand which, when candidates cross them, they do so at their peril. There have been instances of a scandal or perceptions that candidates in the pocket of specific interests and that will be fodder for their opponents. I don’t think he can count out the ire of the voters.”