Opinion Brief

Michele Bachmann's 'impressive' momentum

The 2012 presidential hopeful won Iowa's straw poll, albeit by a narrow margin. How far can this victory take her?

To capitalize on her victory in Saturday's Iowa straw poll, Michele Bachmann took a "victory lap" around the Sunday political talk-show circuit. Though the mock Iowa election has no official significance — it's not even always a good indication of which candidate will win the February Iowa caucuses, which kick off the presidential primary season — Bachmann said her performance proved that she's the Republican best qualified to beat President Obama in 2012. How much will Iowa boost her chances of winning the GOP nomination?

This cements Bachmann as a frontrunner: Michele Bachmann's big win in Iowa was "impressive," says W. James Antle III in The American Spectator. She didn't have the organization Romney had when he won in 2007, or that Pawlenty and Ron Paul had this year. "Her win was based on genuine grassroots enthusiasm." She's not just a Tea Party darling — she's a top-tier candidate and "people should not be so quick to assume her support will evaporate immediately upon the entry of Rick Perry, or even Sarah Palin, into the race."
"Parting Ames thoughts"

The win won't change anything: Don't read too much into the straw poll results, says Nate Silver at The New York Times. Bachmann barely beat out Rep. Ron Paul, and her narrow win "comes on the heels" of a difficult month for the Minnesota congresswoman. Her standing in national polls is eroding, and it doesn't help that she and other Tea Partiers are getting blamed — even by some Republicans — for the debt ceiling debacle. Bachmann "cleared her first hurdle with aplomb," but there are many more ahead.
"You've just won the Ames Straw Poll; what are you going to do next?"

At least in the short-term, Bachmann needed this win: "Michele Bachmann had plenty to lose" in the straw poll, says Mark Murray at MSNBC. Especially with Perry entering the race, Bachmann couldn't afford to let her status as front-runner in the Iowa caucuses slip away. The margin of victory over Paul could have been more impressive, but this win was absolutely necessary for Bachmann to keep her "buzz, momentum, and front-runner status" alive.
"Analysis: Bachmann remains the Iowa front-runner"

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