Ross has noted that this really will be the fundamental choice Republicans make these next few months: will they vote for a true believer or someone they think can beat Obama? Perry's current strength in the polls, reiterated in the new one by CNN, comes from the fact that he wins on both scores. Perry has a 42 percent "electability" rating, and a 26 percent "true believer" rating. Romney, despite creaming Perry in the last debate (I'll be liveblogging the next one tonight to see if Perry's game improves) has 26 percent electability, and 17 percent true believer.
If we call this the viability index, Perry has 68 and Romney has 43. Palin, I should note since the MSM is intent on assuming she no longer exists, has 24. Ron Paul, whom the MSM insists has never existed as a viable candidate, has 19. Bachmann has 13. Palin, interestingly, beats Romney on true-believer status.
But on the core, simple "Who do you support?" question, there are four clear leaders: Perry, Romney, Palin and Paul. I'd throw Bachmann in for good measure. I don't think the pundit class should narrow it down any more than that at this time. No votes happen this year. Let the field debate; lets watch these people react to events and to each other. And bide our time.