Opinion Brief

Is Michele Bachmann the new 2012 GOP frontrunner?

The Minnesota congresswoman and Tea Party stalwart has overtaken Mitt Romney in a new Iowa poll — but how significant are the poll results?

After weeks of ascending in the 2012 presidential polls, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) finally took the lead in a new survey of Iowa likely caucus goers, besting Mitt Romney 25 percent to 21 percent. The last major poll from Iowa had her trailing Romney by 1 percentage point. This new poll, from The Iowa Republican, finds other signs of Bachmann momentum, too: Her net favorability ratings are now 24 points higher than Romney's and 17 points higher than distant No. 3 finisher Tim Pawlenty's. Does this make the Tea Party star the new frontrunner for the GOP nomination?

This is just a Bachmann bubble: This poll already feels a little dated, says Doug Mataconis in Outside the Beltway. Notably, it doesn't reflect Tim Pawlenty's recent attacks on Bachmann's "lack of anything resembling an accomplishment in her political career." Since that attack "is largely true," it may well hasten Bachmann's "inevitable fall from grace." Bottom line: The Tea Partier is "peaking too early."
"Michele Bachmann leads in new Iowa poll"

She's got a great shot at winning Iowa: Give Bachmann her due, says Rob Port in Say Anything. She finally beat out the nominal frontrunner, Romney, and Pawlenty's decision to go negative on her is, "perhaps more than any indication," proof that she's a serious force... at least in Iowa. As a Hawkeye State native with "the right mix of fiscal and social conservatism," she was always expected to do well in Iowa. If she wins New Hampshire, then she's the frontrunner.
"Bachmann in first place in Iowa"

Why are people still underestimating Bachmann? People compare Bachmann with Mike Huckabee, whose 2008 Iowa upset was the high-water mark of his run for the GOP nomination, says Jonathan Chait in The New Republic. But if you look at her high favorability ratings and support among the most engaged voters, Bachmann looks much more like the other Iowa winner in 2008, Barack Obama. At this point, Bachmann's biggest rival is a hypothetical "Rick Perry candidacy."
"Bachmann as 2007 Obama"

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