The Republican War Room poll (Sept. 30), from the Houston Chronicle: Romney 28.2% Cain 23.7% Gingrich 9.8% Perry 9.1% Perry has dropped 15 points in ten days. Florida is arguably the most important state in the country in Republican politics. Texas has more delegates, but Texas is not in play. The Florida GOP incorporates Cubans in South Florida, Jewish retirees along the Gold Coast, rednecks in the Panhandle, more retirees in the Tampa-St. Pete area, and middle class homeowners along the Interstate 4 corridor. The state is a rich lode of votes. The turnaround in Florida raises the question of why Team Perry chose not to address delegates at the straw poll, in an effort to finish on top, and instead flew to Michigan, a state Romney had wrapped up. I think the answer is that the Perry camp thought they had the poll wrapped up. Maybe it is time to reflect upon previous turnarounds. There was Clinton in New Hampshire, 1992, when he spun a second-place finish into the story line that he was the “comeback kid.” There was Bush, who got trounced in New Hampshire in 2000 by McCain, but then went to Bob Jones University in South Carolina and won a vigorous debate against John McCain. The difference between Perry’s situation today and those comebacks is that the Perry campaign has been rocked by as bad a stretch of negative press and poor performances by the candidate as I can ever recall in presidential politics. Maybe the closest parallel was Ross Perot’s self-destruction in 1992, which resulted in his withdrawal from the race (though he came back in later). I remember that Ron Brownstein, then with the LA Times, was in town, and we started ticking off the negative stories, and they went on and on and on. That’s what is happening to Perry. He is drowning in black ink.
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