Intrade market on the 2012 Republican nomination has declared Mitt Romney the winner of his second debate with Rick Perry. Romney's lead has widened slightly to 39.7% over Perry's 36.0%. Prior to the second debate, Romney's lead was about one point. The rest of the field is far behind, at less than 6% each.
It's obvious that Intrade investors felt Romney had a stronger debate than Perry. There are going to be many more debates between now and the Iowa Caucus. That gives Perry time to improve, but if he's a poor debater, it also gives him a lot of opportunities to hurt himself.
What's particularly significant about Romney's lead on Intrade is the fact that Perry hasn't been repudiated in the national polls yet. In fact, there has been very little polling data released since the first debate. Normally, Intrade investors take national primary polls at something close to face value. But here, they put Romney in the lead despite his trailing Perry in all available polls by a significant margin.
Intrade investors tend to come from an "establishment" mindset, which may give them a bit of a natural bias toward Romney over Perry. Even so, the comparison should be made between the "before" and "after" picture. Before the debates, Perry had a significant lead on Intrade. After them, Romney has an edge.
Elephant Watcher agrees that the debates have hurt Perry, and there isn't much sign that Perry won't be hurt in future debates. Romney has shown a greater ability to avoid making mistakes. Thus, Elephant Watcher recalculated the odds of each candidate winning the Republican nomination and found that Romney's advantage over Perry has grown slightly. If Chris Christie decides not to run, Romney will have the highest chance of winning, and a decent lead over Perry.
When the next debate occurs, Perry will need to prove himself capable of getting through unscathed.