by Steve Wagner
And so there are 16, as Rick Perry effectively ends his campaign (they always say the campaign is “suspended,” in case they can get FEC matching funds down the road). The JV debate will be even lonelier with Carly going to the show and Rick to pasture (Gilmore, Graham, Jindal, Pataki, and Santorum remain).
The demise of Perry is not terribly surprising, but it is nonetheless difficult to fully explain. Hindsight, in politics as well as sports, is not 20-20; there are too many intangibles in play. Perry on paper should have been more of a contender. He is a likable man; he was experienced in politics; he stood strongly for the rule of law on border issues; he challenged Obama rather than embraced him (Christie). But he wasn’t what Republican voters are looking for this year.
In explaining Perry’s demise, there are at least five contributing factors:
A friend of mine says there are two kind of candidates, winners and losers, and that these qualities are observable long before the voting begins. Some candidates simply come across as winners. It’s the quality of being confident without being smug, a leader who inspires, accomplished. But it is more than these things. It’s an ineffable quality; it’s a condition which cannot be fully explained. What is annoying about my friend’s observation is a) that he’s right, and b) that he’s very accomplished in field other than politics, and so has no business coming up with such insights.
Not to kick a good man when he’s down, but Rick Perry simply is not, shall we say, a winner. Hillary Clinton is a loser, and there is nothing she can do to change that. Saying you’re a winner does not make you one. It remains to be seen how much of a winner Donald Trump really is.
Steve Wagner is president of QEV Analytics, a public opinion research firm, and a senior fellow at the American Principles Project.