One reason I’ve been eager and impatient for the Iowa caucuses is that I assumed at least a couple candidates would reconsider their presidential bids based on the results. But that looks to be increasingly improbable. Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich are too viable to be discouraged by early upsets, Rick Santorum is poised to exceed expectations, Ron Paul has never been deterred by his unlikelihood to secure the nomination, Rick Perry considers Iowa to be the equivalent of the first mile of a marathon and Jon Huntsman says New Hampshire picks presidents. That leaves Michele Bachmann, who has clung to her August Ames Straw Poll victory as evidence that she has support in the Hawkeye State that isn’t reflected in the current polls. If that turns out to not be true — and she finishes, say, last or something — will she drop out? No way, she says. The Daily Caller’s Alex Pappas reports:
During an appearance on MNSBC’s Morning Joe, Bachmann said her campaign has “already bought our plane tickets. We’re headed to South Carolina as soon as we’re done on Wednesday morning. We’ll be there. We’re going the distance.”
Bachmann won the Iowa Straw Poll in August, but suffered a fall hard as the campaign season went on. The most recent Des Moines Register poll shows her in last place, with 7 percent.
“This isn’t over,” she said. “We’re not here for a post mortem. We’re here because I intend to continue to launch our campaign out of Iowa. I think we’re going to do very well.”
It’s hard to say just why Bachmann fell; as a candidate, she didn’t change from August to now. My best guess: Whereas her attacks on Tim Pawlenty resonated in some way at the time, her attacks on anybody and everybody but Mitt Romney ever since then have apparently begun to pall. They leave voters with the impression that she stands against liberalism even more than she stands for conservatism. Her congressional record of “no” votes just underlines that impression. If Gingrich’s conservative credibility has been undermined somewhat by his superabundance of ideas and refusal to defend himself, then Bachmann’s has been undermined by her lack of them and by her negativity toward her fellow competitors. In this GOP primary, voters — like Goldilocks — are really, really looking for just right … and not quite finding it.