Video: Bachmann's in

Not a formal announcement — that’ll come in Iowa — but the next best thing, and timed of course to coincide with her newsy declaration at the debate that she’s filed the paperwork to be a candidate. She picked a good moment to do it: The consensus on Twitter tonight, from right to left, is that she vastly overperformed expectations, showing a polish at odds with the caricature of her as a wild-eyed ideologue. I’m curious to see what happens in the next round of polling, especially if the talking heads start buzzing about her tomorrow too. Going into the debate, my sense was that Cain had the momentum in Iowa; now I’m thinking Bachmann might have taken it back.

Turns out even Democratic “insiders,” who normally aren’t part of the Bachmann fan club, agree:

Among the 43 Democratic Insiders who responded, 38% of them said that Bachmann had been the most impressive while 28% said Romney was…

Democratic Insiders thought Bachmann was delivering a good performance in the multi-candidate debate format.

“Great energy and personality,” said one Democratic Insider. “Excellent answers that were solidly conservative but sounded very reasonable.” Added another Democrat, “Bachmann is proving to be a strong debater, relaxed, concise and delivering good one-liners.”

Said one Democratic Insider who admitted to being surprised by Bachmann’s showing, “She is coming across as accessible and likeable; she is one of the only candidates up there who has smiled and is trying to connect with the ‘real people’ asking the questions.”

She’s not going to be the nominee but then I’ve never thought that was her chief goal in running. Her goal, presumably, is to make sure the tea-party agenda has a voice at the debates and to get people outside the base to start taking her seriously as a national figure. It’s early, but mission accomplished so far.

Exit question: Who’s the big loser tonight?