Michele Bachmann: While you weren't looking, she's taken over the GOP lead in Iowa
While much of the nation's political community focuses on the deficit stalemate in Washington and President Obama's scheduled news conference to control the news cycle this morning, a new poll reveals Rep. Michele Bachmann has surged to the lead among likely Republican caucus-goers in Iowa.
Bachmann, an Iowa native who now represents a district in Minnesota, has built a lead over former Gov. Mitt Romney, who is focusing more on New Hampshire after a bitter and costly defeat in Iowa in 2008. Romney holds a huge lead in Granite state polls, although Bachmann has surged there too.
According to the new IowaRepublican.com poll, Bachmann has built a four point lead over Romney, 25-21. Former Gov. Tim Pawlenty and Herman Cain are effectively tied for third with about 9% each, with Ron Paul at 6%, Newt Gingrich at 4%, Rick Santorum at 2% and Jon Huntsman at 1%.
An upcoming major measure of the Republican field's standing in Iowa comes at the Ames Straw Poll on Aug. 13, two days after a nationally-televised debate from Iowa on the Fox News Channel.
The straw poll, actually a state party fundraiser, was until 2008 a fairly reliable predictor of the caucus winner five months later. Romney won the poll that year, but lost to Mike Huckabee in the caucuses. It was the height of the Huckabee campaign and a stinging defeat for Romney.
Romney, who spent more than $1 million on his last Ames effort, is not competing this time. Pawlenty has signed up several former key Huckabee aides this time.
A Bachmann win there, even at a meaningless summer weekend straw poll, would give her heightened media visibility and increased credibility among donors. A strong showing by Pawlenty, the former governor from next-door Minnesota, would also help his pizzaz-free campaign.
Bachmann's four-point poll margin is just within the marin of error. Perhaps more importantly, her unfavorable rating is 14 points beneath Romney's while her favorable rating is 10 points higher. That gives her a margin of 65. The poll reports: "Bachmann has found a very effective way to appeal to caucus goers."
Next behind that pair is Pawlenty with a favorable margin of 48. Perhaps as a result of his early statewide media advertising campaign, Pawlenty has improved his standing from 6% in the Des Moines Register Iowa Poll to 8.8% now, a statistical tie with Cain at 8.6%.
The poll found Bachmann running well in virtually every state media market and especially well in the Davenport area, where she has not campaigned much and which was a Romney stronghold last time.
-- Andrew Malcolm
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Photo: Alex Brandon / Associated Press (Bachmann poses for a photo with a young fan); Adam Hunger / Reuters (Bachmann campaigns in New Hampshire).