There is a whiff of panic in the air.
The Republican Party, whose leaders thought only weeks ago that their candidate would coast to victory against United States President Barack Obama in next year's elections, is in disarray. With Texas Governor Rick Perry's public support eroding, the party donors and the money men are casting out their nets again.
Top of their wish list is New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, a budget-cutting conservative who as recently as February was saying he would rather commit suicide than run.
This week, after a speech at the Reagan library in California in which he accused Obama of being "a bystander in the Oval Office", Christie appeared to reject entreaties from the audience by concluding that in order to run for president, "that reason has to reside inside me".
Another feeling the heat to throw his hat into the crowded primary field is Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell. But he too is playing his cards close to his chest.
It's been a rollercoaster ride for the Republicans so far. First there was speculation that Sarah Palin, the former Alaskan Governor on the unsuccessful ticket of Senator John McCain in 2008, would run. The maverick Tea Party favourite is still letting the rumours fly, but the polls have consistently shown that she would lose against Obama, and the majority of Republicans would oppose her candidacy in the first place.
Then came "the Donald", whose campaign caught the country's imagination for a few short weeks before the real estate mogul let it be known that he had never seriously entertained the idea. Donald Trump is now being courted by the presidential hopefuls who seek his endorsement.
With the former Massachusetts Governor, Mitt Romney, failing to ignite much enthusiasm among voters who remembered earlier policy flip flops and his support of a state-wide insurance scheme now compared to "Obamacare", there were pressing appeals to Perry. He obliged, only to look like a startled deer in headlights in the most recent televised debates when challenged on his own policies.
To the party's surprise, outsider Herman Cain, an African American former pizza company executive who advocates a flat tax, led the field in a Florida straw poll last weekend in which Perry came a distant second. Then, in a survey by Public Policy Polling in the presidential swing state, Romney was back in first place, ahead of Perry by 30 to 24 per cent.
Nationally, Romney is the front-runner, according to a Fox News poll. The survey put him at 23 per cent, with Perry at 19 per cent and Cain at 17 per cent. Looking ahead to their chances against Obama, the latest Harris poll showed Obama would lose to Romney by 47 to 53 per cent next November. Libertarian Ron Paul, the Texas Congressman competing for the Republican nomination, would also beat Obama by a narrow margin. But the President would defeat Perry by 51 to 49 per cent.
So on the Democratic side, there is cause for concern.
The President has been out campaigning to win back his core constituents in the black community, where unemployment has risen to more than 16 per cent. His top campaign adviser, David Axelrod, recognises that the President faces a "titanic struggle" because of the economic crisis which has deepened in recent months.
There is not much time for politicians like Christie to make up his mind. Filing deadlines for state primaries like Florida are looming at the end of next month. And there is always Palin. Asked by Greta Susteren on Fox News whether she could win the presidency, Palin replied: "I do."