1. This could have been a costly first debate for Tim Pawlenty. His whiffing increased the already substantial buzz around Rick Perry, who now actually seems to be considering a presidential run. I’m not sure Pawlenty can survive the entry of another top-tier candidate. He really needs this to become a Romney-Pawlenty race, and that was never even guaranteed with Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain, and Ron Paul running to his right.
2. The conventional wisdom is that Jon Huntsman getting in will hurt Mitt Romney: both Mormons, both with a base in Utah, both sharing some donors. But I think Romney will benefit from having a candidate in the race who is perceived as being to his left. Bob Dole had Pat Buchanan to his right and Lamar Alexander to his left, George W. Bush had Steve Forbes to his right and John McCain to his left, McCain had lots of people to his right and (at least on social issues) Rudy Giuliani to his left. It’s not a bad position to be in.