Monday, July 11, 2011

Bachmann Surges, I Suppose

Yeah, I'm still not seeing anything to change my mind that she's not likely at all to be the nominee. The latest is that she's polling well in Iowa, leading the normally very sensible Scott Lemieux to say that "Bachmann...has to be considered an overwhelming favorite in Iowa right now."

I'm sorry, but no, I don't think she has to be considered any type of favorite in Iowa right now.

Look, she got a nice bump coming out of a debate, and in the absence of any other news out there, she's polling well. You know who else did that, a few months ago? Donald Trump. It just doesn't mean very much.

Obviously, Bachmann is a more serious candidate than Trump ever was -- for one thing, she's actually running; for another, she doesn't have a history of policy positions anathema to GOP primary voters.  But that's sort of the point: is Trump can surge in the polls at this point, then anyone can.

I'm open to the possibility that I'm dead wrong about Bachmann, but her current surge in the polls isn't doing much to convince me. We have a long ways to go, and so far I don't see her overcoming the things that made her an implausible nominee a few months ago.


  1. I still don't understand why you always conflate winning Iowa and winning the nomination. Huckabee won Iowa in '08 despite being an implausible nominee and having zero support from national GOP elites.

    Romney himself doesn't think he can win Iowa. If Perry doesn't get in, then it's Pawlenty vs. Bachmann there. Why do you think Pawlenty is a more credible candidate than Bachmann?

  2. I try not to conflate them...

    I strongly disagree that Huck was an implausible nominee in '08.

    As far as why Pawlenty is more plausible than Bachmann...he has no reputation for being a nut, he's been a governor, he's grinding out endorsements. No one like Bachmann has ever won a major-party nomination for president or come close, certainly not in the last century, and especially not in the last forty years. Lots of people with Pawlenty-like credentials have run solid races for the nomination.

    I do think Bachmann could win Iowa; I just don't think she's anything like a solid favorite to do so.

  3. I think any calculation of Michele Bachmann's path to the nomination has the extremely large caveat of Rick Perry turning down a run.

    But absent Gov. Hair, here's how I would make the case: Bachmann appeals to the Republican base in a visceral manner such as Sarah Palin does. The activists feel like she's one of them. Romney has the money advantage, but Bachmann has been a decent fundraiser (we'll see in a few days why her campaign hasn't leaked a number for 2011 Q2).

    In political terms, it sets up something like the Obama/Clinton primary dynamic. If the primary lineup remains IA-NH-SC/NV-Super Tuesday.. I don't see how Bachmann doesn't win Iowa, and who else is DeMint going to endorse for SC? Nevada is a caucus, so Bachmann would have a chance to show better than expected.

    If you get to Super Tuesday with a two-horse race, then it's the establishment vs the insurgent. Now even if all that comes together, I wouldn't make Bachmann the favorite, but I think it's possible because I also think Romney's support is a mile wide, and a foot deep. A Bachmann nomination ultimately happens because the GOP couldn't get past the first step in making tiger stew...

    First, you catch the tiger.

    (I think you're already seeing the sort of reporting going on in the 'village' that is the establishment's way of kneecapping a candidate. That it's happening so soon tells me that the big business GOP backers see her as a threat.)

  4. I’m in total agreement JB about MB’s prospects, the closest thing would be William Jennings Bryan (I guess) but I imagine if McKinley was here he would probably say “Congresswoman I knew William Jennings Bryan, I ran against William Jennings Bryan, you Congresswoman are no William Jennings Bryan.) Actually this is a pretty bad comparison because the silver issue was a very important and controversial issue in his day, while the “Marriage Compact” and investigating congress for being “un-American” are not.

    Here’s my two cents: if Iowa has shown one thing it’s that the Hawkeye givith and the Hawkeye takith away. There are just too many examples of late surges and flukes and irrelevant victories to label as long a shot as Bachmann a frontrunner. Some good examples of unpredictability that is the Iowa caucuses worth remembering before people(including reporters, cable news talking heads and columnists) start reading the tea leaves: Carter came in 2nd behind uncommitted and this turned into a “win”, GHW Bush came in first in 80’ (that took care of Ronnie), Gephardt’s last minute surge in 88’ (three weeks out he was labeled irrelevant had only half a dozen reporters covering his campaign), the aforementioned Governor wining third and saying triumphantly “we won the bronze!” on national television despite being called the frontrunner and winning the nomination anyway, GHW Bush getting thumped (3rd place as a sitting VP 8 years after he won the thing!) but creaming Dole anyway, Clinton ignoring the state and doing great, the predictions Bradley would upset Gore, Dean and of course the most recent ones.

  5. I'm starting to think Bachmann has a great shot. Here's why: first, seems to me there are four major "pods" in the Republican Party right now: 1) Big Money interests (Corporate/Personal), 2) Evangelicals, 3) The Elderly, and 4) Xenophobic Tea Party types. You might also, for fairness, throw in a fifth group, Burkean traditionalists, though I am not sure they matter to this discussion.

    The CW on "Why Bachmann can't win" is that group 1, the big money types, will never support her. Maybe. However, as Prof. Bernstein regularly reminds us, the establishment will back a candidate once s/he is the candidate; assuming Bachmann is credible big money will get behind her. If big money could support "Corporate Finance Reform/Special Interest Hater" McCain, there's no reason they couldn't also back Bachmann. So set aside group 1, for a minimum, they are not as important as they may seem.

    What of the other groups? With the Huckster gone, Team Bachmann wins the evangelical vote by a mile. Bachmann has played a lot of footsie with the Tea Party types, they seem to like that, they seem to like her. Bachmann's huge weakness would seem to be the elderly; one year ago she advised they would need to wean themselves off entitlements, but who can remember 1 year ago? Apparently no one, in Bachmann world, as she now defends Medicare against Obama's nefarious plots, and it seems as though we're all none the wiser.

    So evangelicals: check. Tea Partiers: check. Elderly: problematic, but she probably gets away with it, so also, check. Money interests: more of a lagging indicator than they seem, also check.

    What is she missing? The Andrew Sullivan vote? I think he'd need to get his citizenship first. Bachmann for President is much closer than it may seem.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.

Who links to my website?