Already, the Bachmann boomlet has reset the expectations game in Iowa. The odds on Palin’s jumping into the race lengthen once again. With Pawlenty fighting to survive in Iowa, Jon Huntsman has an easier shot at breaking through in New Hampshire. The Huntsman hype machine must switch from selling the idea of his candidacy to reporters to selling the man himself to real voters. Without stronger New Hampshire poll numbers in the fall, the only precinct Huntsman is likely to carry will be the Morning Joe roundtable. The hopeful news for both Pawlenty and Huntsman is that for most primary voters, the campaign has yet to begin…

This is why the uncontrolled giggling you hear coming from behind the big blue curtain is from Mitt Romney, who must be delirious with joy. For Romney, a two-way contest with Bachmann is a strategic dream come true. (Disclaimer: I worked for Romney in 2002.) It would draw attention and money away from his two real rivals, Huntsman and Pawlenty, and give him a simple race against a candidate who would remove much of the ambivalence many big-league Republicans still harbor about him. Make no mistake: faced with the terrifying prospect of nominating Bachmann and handing the presidency to Obama, the Republican establishment would rally hard and fast behind Romney. And while a unified Republican establishment in full combat mode cannot compete with the Tea Party when it comes to making cardboard Uncle Sam hats, GOP Inc. can easily crush a candidate like Bachmann over the full series of primaries.