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1.  Reihan Salam has some thoughts (and stats) about “”persuadable switchers” (voters who voted Obama in 2008 and Republican in 2010.)  Long story short: these voters think of themselves as to the right of the President, but are strongly for some kind of federal old age entitlements, and are leery of Republicans that they think might be willing to cut entitlements too much.  Presumably there is a substantial number of persuadable switchers in FL, PA, MI, and OH.  I’m not sure that a candidate who comes across as resenting the existence of federal-level Social Security (but willing to continue putting up with it now that it is here) is going to be that helpful with winning over either the persuadable switchers or the older voters of the above states (and I believe that those states all have more older voters than the national average.)

2.  That doesn’t mean Perry has to be that guy.  Perry has a chance to modify his message on entitlements and enough time to get the message to sink in with the public.  If he gets the Republican nomination, there are sure to be Obama ads with “monstrous lie” and “Ponzi scheme.”  But if Perry is smart, careful and repetitive, he might be able to go all “there you go again” on Obama by November of next year and have enough swing voters buy it.  I saw Perry on the 6:00 PM Fox News show today talking about Social Security and he sounded fine.

3.  Perry’s election wins have all come with an electorate that is well to the right of the national average.  Perry has never had to win over the kind of swing voter who decides elections in places like FL, PA, OH, MI, or even the Virginia of today.  Then again, I get the feeling that the smart,  shrewd, disciplined and persuadable-friendly Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell is going to end up backing Perry so maybe he knows something we don’t.  

4.  While I think Perry is at the moment a worse candidate than Romney for going after persuadable switchers and older voters, he might, based on his general style, be able to increase turnout among some right-leaning constituencies.  Some strongly ideological conservatives, and whites with strongly felt rural, Southern or evangelical identifications (these are partly - but only partly - overlapping categories) who might otherwise sit out an Obama-Romney contest might turn out for Perry.  Whether that makes up for Perry’s (maybe) relative weakness with other constituencies is another question.

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