Michele Bachmann's presidential bid in perspective [The conversation]
Michele Bachmann may be as right wing as they get, but she wants you to know she's just another American, like you and me, who wants to get our country back on track. And she'd like us to start by remembering that we don't need big government when we have God on our side. On the occasion of her presidential bid, opinionators have:
Warned us she's dangerous.
"I think she is dangerous," said State Sen. Terri Bonoff, who represents the area. "She acts like she is selling a brand. Well, politics and government isn't about a slogans and brands, it's about having a real debate on the issues."
Reminded us that liberals have been bashing Bachmann for years.
This roundup of quotes on NewBustersby Geoffrey Dickens summarizes the degree of contempt adequately. For example, these words from Keith Olbermann in March 2010:
"If racism is not the whole of the Tea Party, it is in its heart, along with blind hatred, a total disinterest in the welfare of others and a full-flowered, self-rationalizing refusal to accept the outcomes of elections, or the reality of democracy, or the narrowness of their minds and the equal narrowness of their public support. On Saturday, that support came from evolutionary regressives like Michele Bachmann and Jon Voight. On a daily basis that support comes from the racists and homophobes of radio and television: the Michael Savages and the Rush Limbaughs."
Put her recent poll numbers in perspective.
Ms. Bachmann's jump in the polls makes her one of the frontrunners in August's Ames Straw Poll (and thus a frontrunner in the anti-Romney sub-primary). And though the straw poll isn't always predictive of the actual caucuses, winning it can be very helpful to an insurgent campaign. Then again, it isn't yet clear that the Minnesotan can convert her newfound popularity into straw poll votes. AP writer Thomas Beaumont, the former chief political reporter for the Des Moines Register, recently pointed out that Ms. Bachmann's campaign in the state has been notable for its lack of organization.
Nate Silver also reminds us to take the encouraging numbers with a grain of salt. From FiveThirtyEight:
Consider Jonathan Bernstein's reminder about the first Iowa Poll in the last election cycle, which was published in May, 2007. In that survey, Mitt Romney -- who eventually finished second in Iowa -- had 30 percent of the vote. In second and third place were John McCain (with 18 percent) and Rudy Giuliani (17 percent), who flopped there. The winner of the caucuses, Mike Huckabee, had 4 percent of the vote at this point in time -- behind the likes of Tommy Thompson and Sam Brownback.
In other words, the horse race numbers need to be interpreted cautiously. Instead, I'd pay just as much attention to the impression that voters have of each candidate.
Acknowledged that she has a real shot of becoming the GOP nominee. Which would be really good for President Obama.
Here's Daily Kos' Markos Moulitsas weighing in:
Yeah, yeah -- this could be wishful thinking. Bachmann would gift Obama a second term and would lead to another Democratic wave election in the House. And yeah, this assumes that Mike Huckabee or Sarah Palin don't get into the race. But this is the age of Christine O'Donnell and Ken Buck. Republican primary voters don't give a damn about electability, but about casting a vote for the purest candidate. […]
So with Bachmann we have perhaps the best-funded candidate, with an early map that favors her brand of culture-war conservatism, and genuine street credibility with the teabagger types that will enable her to quickly build a national grassroots network.
So yeah, this runs counter to conventional wisdom, and I recognize that I'm out on one hell of limb, but I'm not seeing a path to the nomination for any of the other declared Republicans.
I look forward to presenting the other side of the Michele Bachmann argument in the coming days, in which I'll round up opinions that lean in her favor. Meantime: Will you vote for Bachmann?
--Alexandra Le Tellier
Photo: Rep. Michelle Bachmann (R-Minn.) announces her candidacy for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination at the historic Snowden House on June 27 in Waterloo, Iowa. Credit: Steve Pope / Getty Images