The Republican field has been complete since Perry announced his candidacy. He immediately zoomed to the top of the polls but he has slipped into mediocrity since then. Not only is there no clear leader at the present time, but it is not at all obvious who would benefit from a situation in which no clear leader emerges. I don’t really believe that a brokered convention is possible these days, but I do think that, if there were to be a brokered convention, the two people in the best position to benefit are Jeb Bush, followed by Marco Rubio. Bush was a successful governor of the second most important red state, and the convention is in Tampa. The Republican establishment likes Chris Christie and Mitch Daniels, and both have flirted with running, but it is clear by now that neither is going to run.
Perry was situated perfectly to be the nominee, but he hasn’t shown that he has the intellectual capacity to raise the level of his performance. To put it simply, he doesn’t act presidential. He runs for president as he ran for governor, attacking his opponents (Romney, Obama) and latching onto all the conservative cliches. He isn’t all that popular in his home state. His job approval rating is high, but his likeability is around 55% and fewer than 50% of Republicans want him to be president (according to one GOP pollster).
Perhaps the picture will become clearer after Tuesday’s debate on economic issues.