• Governors do better than members of Congress in presidential politics, particularly in a year when Congress has record-low support. Perry was a long-serving Governor who had never worked in DC.
• Southerners tend do better than northerners in a Dixie–dominated GOP party. Perry was arguably the only southerner in the field. (I think Newt feels more DC to most.)
• Republicans are seemingly more obsessed than ever with the Reagan mystique. Perry’s swagger and look was arguably the most Reaganesque.
• The economy is the paramount issue in 2012. Perry had been running a state doing relatively well economically.
• Presidential campaigns require lots of money. The darling of the Texas corporate class and national political opportunists had more money than most in the field, both for his own campaign and for pro-Perry Super PACs.
• Republican activists are very intolerant of political compromise. Perry had governed in a state so conservative than he rarely had to compromise (unlike Romney and Pawlenty, for instance).
• Being a white male Protestant conservative is a key political asset in the Republican Party. Post-Pawlenty, Perry had that advantage to himself.
Because Perry was so strong on paper, I originally thought he would win the nomination, and had the best shot against Obama. He had the longest list of important political assets.
But at the end of the day, Presidents are not picked on paper. You have to execute, and Perry just was never able to execute on a communications level. Oops.