How close is Rick Perry to winning the Republican nomination?

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Though Texas Gov. Rick Perry has been in the race for the Republican nomination for president for only two-and-a-half weeks, John Ellis of Business Insider thinks the nomination is his to lose. He games out the primary calendar:

He leads in Iowa and he hasn’t even really campaigned there yet. He’s running second in New Hampshire, which is all he needs to do. And he’s running comfortably ahead in South Carolina (again, without much campaigning), which is the gateway to the South.

The South is the base of the modern Republican Party. Perry has become, in less than a month, the Southern states’ de facto favorite son…

Once Labor Day has passed, there will be five debates, in quick succession, on the GOP presidential candidates’ calendars. These will be important tests for Perry. If at the end of two or three, it’s clear that he’s every bit the equal of Mitt Romney on matters of policy and politics, then the Perry juggernaut becomes all but unstoppable. Romney’s “I’m the only electable one” argument will vanish and the party’s base will nominate one of their own. If Perry stumbles badly in the debates, Romney’s campaign gets a second wind.

Romney also has advantages in early primary states of Michigan and Nevada thanks to his father being governor of the former and the high Mormon population in the latter. But Ellis is convincing about the South. Perry has never lost an election, but he’s never run outside of Texas. Ellis suggests New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie as a vice-presidential candidate, but Christie has rejected the idea.

Meanwhile Ben Smith and Maggie Haberman of Politico report on how a Perry nomination could “wake up the left”in a way Mitt Romney — former governor of Massachusetts — or President Obama could not.

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