He’s got until January to close the sale. “The reaction to Perry from voters here in northwest Iowa — the most conservative part of a conservative state — appeared mixed at times, which shows the damage that Perry has suffered over the course of three bad debates in the past month. But if Perry is going to win Iowa, which goes first in the primary process, he will have to win over and energize voters in this part of the state.”

Not close to acceptable. Mark Zandi, among the administration’s favorite economists, says unemployment is unlikely to go below 9 percent next year.

If Herman Cain is going to stay close to the top of the pack he’s going to have to start explaining his 9-9-9. “With Herman Cain surging up Republican presidential polls in recent weeks, his plan to dramatically overhaul the tax code is starting to attract questions — even from fellow conservatives. Cain’s so-called ‘9-9-9’ plan has liberals and tax analysts worried that the plan would not take in enough revenue, and that it would cause lower- and middle-income families to pay more.. . . But conservatives have a different concern — that Cain’s plan to install a 9 percent national sales tax, paired with income and corporate taxes at that same rate, would give Democrats a brand new tax stream to try to squeeze out more revenue.”

No factor has been close to the debates in importance in the GOP primary, Fred Barnes argues. “By far the biggest influence on the Republican contest has been the series of nationally televised debates. . . . The impact of the debates on the candidates has been palpable. After three poor debate performances last month, Mr. Perry dropped out of first place in polls. He fell to 17% in the ABC News/Washington Post survey in late September, from 29%. He trailed Mr. Romney (25%) in that poll and was tied with businessman Herman Cain. The reverse is true for Mr. Cain. . . . Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota has risen, then plummeted, chiefly because of debates.”

Not even close to profiles in courage. “Two Republican presidential candidates refused to say Sunday whether they believe Mitt Romney, a Mormon, is a Christian, while a third said he doesn’t agree with a Texas pastor who called the religion a ‘cult.’ Businessman Herman Cain and Minnesota congresswoman Michele Bachmann declined to answer questions about Romney’s Mormon religion.”

No Republican contender came close to Rick Santorum on whether Mormonism is a “cult”: “No, I . . .don’t. . . . Mitt Romney is a true — he says he’s a Christian. I believe he said Christian. I’m not an expert on Mormonism. All I know is that every Mormon I know is a good and decent person, has great moral values and, by and large, with the exception of Harry Reid, by and large, pretty consistent in the values that I share and that things I want to see happen to this country. And that’s what he should be judged on.”Really, is that so hard?

If he wins there, he could close out the race early. “Although Mitt Romney has visited Iowa only once since launching his campaign for president in 2012, some of the state’s voters are giving him a second look. In recent interviews several Iowa GOP leaders said that they are seeing movement toward Romney, even though the support seems more a matter of pragmatism than enthusiasm.” A Romney win in Iowa is still not very likely, I’d argue, especially with Herman Cain surging.

A stable, democratic Egypt doesn’t seem close at hand, does it? “At least 23 people were killed and nearly 200 were wounded in downtown Cairo on Sunday night as a march by Coptic Christians turned into the deadliest outbreak of violence in Egypt since the popular revolt that toppled the country’s autocratic leader in February.”