There’s a reason why Rick Perry took so many shots from so many candidates at his first two Republican presidential debates: He’s now the frontrunner in the race, and that is reflected in our presidential rankings.
Perry’s entry into the race on the same day as the Iowa Straw Poll has effectively relegated all the other candidates, except for Mitt Romney, to pretender status. If the race actually came down to Perry vs. Romney, it would make for an interesting decision for Republicans, effectively offering a choice between head (Romney, probably the more electable candidate in November) and heart (Perry, the more authentically conservative candidate).
But, we’re not there yet. It’s still possible that one of the “pretenders” will rise to “contender” status, or that, with the help of the pretenders, Romney will regain his status as the front-runner. (Michele Bachmann is doing her best to pull Perry back down to earth, for example.) But thanks to his polling surge — and the fact that the debates, though difficult, were not a disaster for him — Perry’s on top of our rankings for now.