David Kurtz is concise:
[A]nemic fundraising, a weak campaigner, and a guy who couldn't throw enough red meat to GOP primary voters.
He was more acceptable to the Republican elite than Bachmann was. If she faded, he would have been well positioned to take her support in Iowa. Social conservatives found him acceptable. Fiscal conservatives liked him better than Romney. In retrospect, though, he might have euthanized his campaign at the second presidential debate in New Hampshire. After trying out a new line on campaign stops — calling Mitt Romney's health care plan "Obamneycare" — Pawlenty dialed it back, and passed on the chance to attack Romney after moderator John King gave him multiple chances to do so. After that, some voters and donors that I talked to worried that Pawlenty lacked the grit to be a successful candidate against Barack Obama. Pawlenty never overcame that.
Yglesias rounds up more of T-Paw's not-so-greatest hits. Jonathan Bernstein diagnoses how Ames did him in. Contra Ben Smith, Larison doesn't believe Pawlenty's political death is a repudiation of Sam's Club Republicanism:
As Smith notes, Pawlenty didn’t propose any policies informed by this, and his economic plan was notable for how little it focused on including any provisions that would have mattered to working- and middle-class voters. The main idea behind Ross and Reihan’s Grand New Party was that the Republican Party should actually try to serve the interests of its constituents with policies aimed at providing services and benefits. They took Pawlenty’s “Party of Sam’s Club” rhetoric and tried to make it into a policy agenda, but Pawlenty didn’t govern according to anything like that agenda, and he certainly never campaigned on it. We have to make a distinction between Pawlenty’s pseudo-populist use of his biography in his stump speeches and a policy agenda that was at least attempting to address problems of rising inequality, wage stagnation, and decreased social mobility that most Republican politicians ignore in their paeans to American exceptionalism.
T-Paw for Senate?
(Photo: Republican presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty, leaves the stage after addressesing the crowd assembled for the Ames Straw Poll at Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa. By Tom Williams/Roll Call)