Can Bachmann cross over and capture centrists?

Bachmann was the evening’s breakout star. But there is likely to be a limit to how far she can go. For all the attention she draws to herself, she hasn’t actually done much in Congress. “She runs on what’s wrong, not on what she’s accomplished,” said Jacobs. And several people who have worked for her, including her former chief of staff, have stated that she has no business running for president.

Still, she has at least three big factors working for her: the deep dissatisfaction among conservative voters with the current presidential field; the palpable yearning for a candidate to emerge and challenge Mitt Romney, who remains unpopular in many quarters; and her own record as a prolific fundraiser with a distinct national profile — something her debate performance is certain to enhance. She has another thing going for her, too. She’s exactly the type of politician who ought to appeal to Iowa’s socially conservative Republican caucus-goers. (She was even born in Waterloo, Iowa.)