It’s not the viewing audience that matters. It’s the conservative commentators who are watching the debate. They are widely read (and listened to) and they are opinion-makers. I was just surfing the Web the other day when I found a Politico article published after the September 11 debate. It was brutal about Perry. National Review’s Rick Lowry: “a handful of notably bad answers.”
Weekly Standard’s William Kristol: “Yikes. Conservatives should be horrified, or at least demoralized.”
Ann Coulter tweeted, “He’s losing the debate with his own tongue.
The point is, first impressions are the strongest impressions. Perry entered the race with an aura of inevitability, but it’s gone now. It’s hard to imagine Republican voters looking forward to a debate between Obama and Rick Perry.