Though some on the Left mock Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), pollsters are taking her quite seriously. Among potential 2012 GOP presidential contenders, the Minnesota congresswoman now rivals Mike Huckabee for the most intense support, according to a Gallup poll, and some are saying she could win the Iowa caucuses. The Tea Party favorite was born in the socially conservative state, and has made four trips there in the past year. Last week, she rallied crowds at Rep. Steve King's (R-Iowa) Conservative Principles Conference by telling them: "I am an Iowan!" Huckabee's 2008 Iowa win, of course, elevated him from an unheard-of outsider to a GOP front-runner. Can Bachmann pull it off this time? (Watch Bachmann speak in Iowa)
Yes. She's got what it takes to win: Bachmann won't just be a "game-changer in Iowa," says Katrina Trinko at the National Review, she could "possibly win the caucuses." Not only does she have the social-conservative credentials, but "she's also proven her appeal to more fiscally oriented voters" by founding the congressional Tea Party caucus. Add that to her Iowa ties, and she's likely to be a "formidable competitor."
"Michele Bachmann 2012?"
No. She's no match for Huckabee: Bachmann may be flavor of the month, says Doug Mataconis at Outside the Beltway, but Huckabee is still the front-runner. He tops the polls among Republican presidential prospects, is well liked by Fox News viewers, and runs strongest head-to-head against Obama. Bet on Iowa voters to hand him a repeat of his 2008 victory — if he decides to run.
"Your current GOP 2012 frontrunner: Mike Huckabee"
A Bachmann win would be disastrous for the GOP: If Huckabee bows out of the race, says Steve Kornacki at Salon, a fringe candidate like Bachmann could very well win in Iowa, which is "the national GOP's nightmare scenario." Iowa caucus voters are "ravenous" for "attacks on gays, Muslims, President Obama's 'otherness' and godless liberalism in general." Bachmann is a pro at serving up such red meat. But nothing turns off swing voters more — which would really hurt the GOP in the general election.
"The GOP's Iowa problem"
Iowa isn't the bellwether it once was: Iowa Republicans make it clear that they will only vote for someone who puts Christian values first, says Dan K. Thomasson at Scripps News. But that message is not "overly favorable for general election success." Americans vote with their wallets, not their conscience. Iowa may still be important to "ultraconservative Republicans," but it's an "obscure event" to everyone else.
"Iowa unrepresentative of GOP"