1. Avik Roy nails it on why Romney is getting away with murder on Romneycare. There is a lot there, but one take away is that Romney is a very smart guy who works very hard on his evasions. His opponents are lazy and short sighted when it comes to health care policy. They can’t be bothered to invest the time to make real arguments about health care policy. Romney is thus able to swat away attacks that are either vague (Obamacare was based on Romneycare) or narrow (both have insurance purchase mandates so boo.) You could have watched every single Republican debate and come away with the impression that the only substantive similarity between Romneycare and Obamacare is that both have some kind of health insurance purchase mandate. Think about this: none of Romney’s opponents can make a critique of a state-level version of Obamacare that resonates even with REPUBLICAN PRIMARY VOTERS.
2. I now agree that Perry look like toast. The more I think about his performance last night the worse it gets. But just because he looks like toast . . . Even if New Hampshire moves the primary date to December, I still think that the air will come out of the Cain balloon. The incentives are now for the second-tier candidates to attack Cain and 9-9-9. When it sinks in that 9-9-9 is a middle and working poor tax increases, Cain is going to lose altitude. And it won’t matter how many times he looks in the camera and says that just because it looks like a tax increase it won’t actually be a tax increase. I don’t think that the wheel of not-Romney has stopped spinning and it could land back on Perry if he gets a heartbeat, a brainwave and a message. If he doesn’t, it could be Bachmann or Santorum. Heck, you could even see a last minute surge for Gingrich. The pattern so far is for non-Romney candidates to surge and once their weaknesses are exposed to fall back as another non-Romney emerges. Timing matters a lot. If someone is hot right before Iowa we could get a two-person race. If no particular non-Romney is that hot by Iowa, Romney might win the caucuses and roll to the nomination