According to lots of Republican experts , the race for the nomination has already been winnowed down to Bachmann, Romney, and Perry. I agree with Pete that Pawlenty could come back if Bachmann self-destructs before Iowa, but that seems very unlikely.

Perry, at first glance, seems like the mean between the two extremes. He has the record of executive competence, like Romney, but he’s consistently and unambiguously conservative, like Bachmann.

Perry is a good speaker. But he’s pretty controversial in Texas and had a lot of bumps on his last road to re-election. One poll that I’m too lazy to link shows that he’s the only Republican prospect who might well lose Texas to Obama. I don’t think a white, southern governor who’s that evangelical in public is the ticket next time. The libertarian Virginia Postrel called his religiosity “smarmy,” which in my opinion is not something that could reasonably be said about, say, Santorum’s or Huckabee’s presentations of their faith. I’m reserving judgment on Rick, again agreeing with Pete, while being glad he’s running.

Rick is already polling pretty well nationwide, but I doubt very much he’ll be able to beat Bachmann in Iowa—although he could always getting the bump that comes from doing better than expected. It’s also pretty clear New Hampshire isn’t his kind of state. But conceivably Florida, especially if endorsed by Rubio?

But all in all: Those are obviously not such strong candidates, and the president is probably pretty happy about how the campaign is going. It’s getting pretty late for someone else to jump in the race.

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