It looks like we won't have Michele Bachmann to kick around anymore. The tea-partying congresswoman from Minnesota announced on Wednesday that she would suspend her campaign for the Republican presidential nomination, following a disappointing sixth-place finish in Tuesday's Iowa caucuses. Just last August, Bachmann was a real contender, sweeping the much-watched Ames straw poll with 4,823 of the 16,892 votes cast. Compare that to Tuesday's caucuses, in which Bachmann eked out only 6,073 of the state's 122,255 votes. Why did her campaign implode? Here, six factors:
1. She was overtaken by other non-Romneys
From Rick Perry to Herman Cain to to Rick Santorum, a progression of other "Christian conservative alternatives to consistent Republican frontrunner Mitt Romney" took the wind out of Bachmann's sails, says Liz Halloran at NPR. Remember, Perry announced his candidacy on the very day Bachmann won the Ames straw poll, and he quickly shot to the top of the polls. In that sense, the high-water mark of Bachmann's campaign was also the beginning of the end.
2. Bachmann failed to find a winning message
"Once Rick Perry stole her thunder," says Maggie Haberman at Politico, Bachmann "retreated to a familiar comfort zone of Fox News and conservative radio appearances." And in so doing, "she also failed to develop a cohesive message beyond beating up on 'ObamaCare' and talking about the nation's fiscal crisis." That simply wasn't enough to woo back GOP voters.
3. She told too many whoppers
Bachmann uttered a truckload of false statements, Bill Adair of PolitiFact tells NPR. "She definitely has far more 'false' and 'pants on fire' ratings than any other presidential candidate," he says. The Minnesotan's strange claims that mental retardation was a possible side effect of the HPV vaccine proved particularly alarming, and the media furor surrounding her stance turned off many voters.
4. And made too many gaffes
From mixing up heroic actor John Wayne and serial killer John Wayne Gacy to suggesting that the opening battles of the Revolutionary War took place in New Hampshire (rather than Massachusetts), Bachmann made a number of well-publicized gaffes, says Peter Grier in The Christian Science Monitor. Sure, "she handled these mistakes fairly well, admitting she was wrong and moving quickly on." But "the gaffe-prone tag stuck."
5. She failed to win over women
Bachmann was the only woman in the race, but she didn't manage to attract female voters, notes Grier. A December poll put Bachmann's support among Iowa women at just 7.2 percent, compared to 32 percent for Ron Paul. Sarah Palin and her "stampede of conservative women" stumped for Bachmann in 2010, says Patricia Murphy in The Washington Post, but not this year. It seems reality hit the mama grizzlies, and they decided Bachmann simply wasn't electable.
6. Her campaign was dysfunctional
"Bachmann was dogged throughout her campaign by staff defections at key moments," says Grier. Last week, her Iowa co-chair jumped ship to Ron Paul's campaign, while her former campaign manager Ed Rollins bailed out in September. Rollins even went so far as to rail "against Bachmann on cable TV and in the media," notes Emily Schultheis at Politico. On the Hill, Bachmann is a notoriously difficult boss, and she seems to have earned a similar reputation on the campaign trail.
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- Watch out, China — America is working on dogfighting drones
- How liberals are unwittingly paving the way for the legalization of adult incest
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- How the Simpsons/Family Guy crossover revealed the worst of both shows
- Why the Chinese military is only a paper dragon
- The troubling persistence of eugenicist thought in modern America
- Why America won't have enough money to battle ISIS
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
- Libertarianism's terrible, horrible, no good, very bad idea
- 11 facts yü should know about the umlaut
Subscribe to the Week