Role of Bachmann’s campaign in 2012 race still up in the air

Amanda Carey Contributor
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In the latest Fox News poll, Rep. Michele Bachmann scored a surprisingly low four percent, behind Texas Governor Rick Perry, who led with 26 percent. Mitt Romney followed at 18 percent, Sarah Palin doubled Bachmann’s support with eight percent, and Rep. Ron Paul registered seven percent.

The downward slide for Bachmann comes just weeks after she swept the Ames Straw  poll — an early test of the GOP field. But that field lacked the presence of the now dominant Rick Perry. And, the Fox News poll goes one step further in cementing what analysts have suspected for days: Rick Perry is sucking all the wind out of Bachmann’s sails.

Since Perry’s late entry, he has surged in the polls so much so, that the Real Clear Politics average has him at 26.3 percent, while Bachmann sits at 8.8 percent.

So where does Bachmann’s campaign go from here?

“Michele Bachmann and Mitt Romney share the same problem, but in a different way,” pollster Scott Rasmussen told The Daily Caller. “The problem is Rick Perry.”

“For Bachmann, the Perry problem is that he captures a lot of the outsider appeal that gave the congresswoman a boost,” Rasmussen added. “Unless he stumbles, there is nowhere for her campaign to go.”

That’s not to say Bachmann’s campaign can’t or won’t serve an important role in 2012. Bachmann is lined up to become a potential “RINO-killer”. In 2010, Senate candidates Joe Miller of Alaska and Christine O’Donnell of Delaware filled that niche when they defeated establishment candidates Lisa Murkowski and Mike Castle, respectively, in their primaries.

The problem with that theory in reality, however, is that the 2012 field isn’t full of moderates and the demographics of those supporting a moderate Republican are the opposite of those who would support a Tea Party candidate.

“The ten percent thinking about Bachmann would not be thinking about [Jon] Huntsman, for example,” one GOP source put it succinctly.

There’s also the chance that Bachmann could become the Mike Huckabee of 2012.

As the primary season progressed in the 2008 election cycle, the race came down to Mitt Romney, John McCain and Mike Huckabbee. Some think the fact that Huckabee hung in there so long was a factor in McCain eventually taking the nomination over Romney.

“He [Huckabee], in affect, killed Romney’s chance to really start putting wood to McCain,” said the GOP source, who did not want to talk on the record because of ties to several of the presidential campaigns.

“It’s possible she could play that role in some capacity. If she’s getting 10 percent somewhere, that’s 10 percent someone’s not getting.”

So has Michele Bachmann peaked? In the last week she’s received criticism for things like advocating drilling for oil in the Florida Everglades, for her confusing statement on God’s wrath being behind Hurricane Irene, and for not competing in the New Hampshire primary. And now, many are questioning her once easy road in the Iowa caucus.

The negative press, combined with the sliding poll numbers don’t bode well for the congresswoman.

“She’s likely to fade,” said Patrick Hynes, president of Hynes Communications in New Hampshire.

Hynes added that Bachmann’s decision to essentially not campaign or compete in New Hampshire will hurt her even more.

“Once you tell people you’re going to lose, they’re going to think of you as a loser,” he told TheDC. Moreover, Hynes said, the spoiler role is a “dangerous place to be in.”

The Bachmann campaign did not return a request to comment for this story.

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