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...or you just might lose them!
It's ironic that Perry quits this race just four years (almost to the day) after he peaked in the '12 race with 32% (another ironic number).
If history sheds any light on how the primary campaign unfolds from here, the bottom of the stack will continue to flounder and drop out, and the top of the stack will be toppled as "King of the Hill" at all the wrong times for any hope of recovery.
If that plays out, the candidates in the middle of the stack right now have the most promise. Pataki, Graham, Jindal, and Santorum are essentially the walking dead. Fiorina's performance in the debate next week may launch her into the middle or sink her. Trump, Carson, and Bush are in the top danger zone. Sometimes even money can't flat out buy you votes.
Personally, I think Kasich and Christie will find themselves out of line with the base. Walker has been in a tailspin and I am not sure Huckabee is raising enough money.
The polling trend has been fawning for 'outsiders'. That would be Trump, Carson, Fiorina, and to some extent Cruz and maybe Paul (if voters don't hold their current elected position against them).
The only ones starting this Fall with the money to last are Trump, Bush, Cruz, and Rubio (in that order).
Here's a wake up: Starting Aug 1, Rick Perry was #5 in money raised among Republican candidates. Christie, Paul, Kasich, Carson, Jindal, Graham, Huckabee, Fiorina, Pataki, and Santorum all trailed him.
So, Trump gets a boost for being an outsider and having money. But he's got all guns pointed at him as "King of the Hill".
Bush only has money going for him. He's perceived as the establishment's nominee and an insider. His money may do him no good.
Carson and Fiorina have outsider status, but haven't shown they can raise money, yet. Carson is also flirting with being next in line for "King of the Hill", which will make him a big target. If he doesn't have the money to defend himself, he'll go down, too.
Rand Paul isn't raising enough money, but his fellow senators, Rubio and Cruz are right where I think you need to be at this stage of the campaign - the middle. Currently, Cruz has about $20 million on hand more than Rubio. That, coupled with his "outsider" status gives him a huge advantage.
In reality, there's a lot of race to be run. We've got a much bigger field than in years' past, so there are a lot of hands out for Republican dollars. If bottom tier candidates see the light as Perry did, and get out, then the ones left have a chance to raise good money in the 4th quarter. But, if all these variables continue on their current paths, I see a Trump, Bush, Cruz contest come March. They've got a huge jump on the money game and have three different sets of appeal. Bush gets the lion's share of the establishment, Cruz the conservatives, and Trump the disaffected and "sick and tired". Bush and Trump will split the vote of those who only care about supporting someone they think can win. Cruz and Bush will split the vote of those looking for political experience. Trump and Cruz will split the vote of those looking for an "outsider".
By that point in the game, however, Senator Ted Cruz will have one ace of unknown value. The evangelical vote. His only competitor for that bloc will have been Mike Huckabee. Without money, Huckabee will be out at some point and evangelicals will have few options. Cruz is a stand out in that community and has actively campaigned for that vote. Turnout will be the key.
But, we're just looking at an endpoint on a map. There's a lot of campaign left with a (record?) number of candidates yet to drop out. So, who's next?