In the weeks ahead, Perry’s campaign will begin to lose support from both the right and the center, and he’ll watch the broad coalition he’s tried to assemble begin to gradually disintegrate. After puzzlingly impotent defenses of his own record on in-state tuition for illegal aliens and the state-sponsored HPV vaccine, Perry will see desertions from true Tea Party believers and conviction conservatives on the question of authenticity, while he’ll simultaneously give up backers to Romney on the issue of electability.
The question isn’t whether Perry can sustain his current status as front runner (he can’t). It’s whether he can maintain enough support (for all his money and charm and currently formidable poll numbers) to remain in the race as a viable candidate at all.
A version of this column originally appeared in The Daily Beast.