Michele Bachmann couldn’t have scripted the past two weeks any better. Two weeks ago on Monday, she appeared in her first presidential debate. In doing so, she announced her intention to seek the Republican nomination for president. Even better, she delivered a solid performance, which got the media talking.
Now Bachmann is set to formally announce her campaign in Iowa on Monday, and hours before she steps foot in the state for the first time in over a month, she is greeted with outstanding polling numbers by the Des Moines Register that show her in a statistical dead-heat with Mitt Romney.
Life is good if you are Michele Bachmann or one of her supporters, but be careful what you wish for. Bachmann is now the clear frontrunner in Iowa and has to manage the expectations that come along with that status. With this one poll, Bachmann went from being an interesting candidate with a lot of potential to being a frontrunner who now has to live up to the hype.
For most of 2011, Tim Pawlenty was considered the frontrunner in Iowa. Much of that was thanks to his healthy Iowa itinerary, his massive number Iowa staff and consultants, and his campaign’s early mail, TV, and radio advertisements. The poll showed Pawlenty stuck in low single digits, where he has always been. Meanwhile, Bachmann is riding high.
Her new expectations mean that she needs to win the Ames Straw Poll, not just do well. A more immediate concern is her announcement in Iowa, which begins tomorrow. As the Iowa frontrunner, big enthusiastic crowds are expected. In other words, there is no longer any room for error with her campaign.
It might be wise for Bachmann and her staff not to get too confident too quickly. Unlike the other candidates in the race, Bachmann has yet to travel to many parts of the state. While she leads in the poll, she doesn’t have much of a campaign apparatus in place, and the Ames Straw Poll is only seven weeks away.
It’s also important to note that the poll was conducted in the three days following the CNN New Hampshire debate. These early polls are often times popularity contests, and nobody was being talked about more during the span of this poll than Bachmann. Herman Cain saw a similar spike in various polls after the South Carolina debate, and his numbers have diminished in recent weeks. Bachmann needs to transform her popularity into hard and fast support if she’s going to grow her numbers before the Ames Straw Poll and Caucus.
Bachmann is the big winner in the Iowa Poll, but she now has a more difficult campaign to wage in Iowa.
Photo by Dave Davidson
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